Arlington -- Cowboys running back Zeke Elliott made his preseason debut against the Raiders Saturday but the possibility that starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens may be lost for the season turned out to be the story of the night in the Cowboys 24-20 victory over the Raiders.
A league source tells WFAA Sports the Cowboys fear Hitchens may have suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
He suffered the injury with 19 seconds left in the first half. After being evaluated by the training staff, Hitchens walked off the field unable to put any weight on his right leg.
When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met with the media just moments after the game, he didn't want to entertain the possibility of a worst-case scenario.
"I don't want to go there," said Jones. "All I know, though is I don't like the way it sounds. They'll take a look at it again tomorrow. If it were going to put him down, it'd be an ACL tear. I'm Dr. Jones reserving opinion on this. I didn't see anything. They just told me they wanted to look at it tomorrow."
Hitchens' teammates say his loss would be a big blow to the team. Fellow linebacker Sean Lee, who made his preseason debut, considers Hitchens one of the most underrated players in the league.
"He has been one of those guys from day one that has done everything we've asked," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "He is someone that does the job on a consistent basis. He has had an awfully good training camp and awfully good preseason. It was certainly disappointing, but like I said we will find out more in the morning."
Meanwhile, Elliott played one series in his first action of the preseason. He touched the ball eight times on the 10-play drive that resulted in a field goal for the Cowboys.
He rushed for 18-yards on six carries and made a pair of catches for six yards.
"It was good to see him play," said Garrett. "He looked like himself. He's worked very hard in practice. He practices really well. He really loves football and works very hard at it, and I think you saw that tonight."
The action he saw against the Raiders could be Elliott's last until late October. He's headed to New York for an appeal hearing after he was suspended for 6 games.
"He is going to go to New York tomorrow," said Garrett. "The appeal is actually Tuesday, and he is going to work on Monday for it. Hopefully, it will be completed by the end of the day Tuesday, and he will be back with the team."