Al Johnson Out for the Season

Rookie center Al Johnson became the first major casualty of training camp when it was learned that a knee injury suffered late last week appears to be much more serious that originally thought.

The 2nd-round draft choice out of Wisconsin underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery Friday afternoon in Colorado.

The surgery revealed more extensive cartilage damage than what was orginally thought. As a result, a much more complicated procedure was performed to aid the cartilage regeneration, ending Johnson's season.

Johnson, who was as excited as anyone to join the Cowboys this offseason, was the 38th overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft.

"Coach Parcells basically said he likes the way I play and he's looking for a guy to step in and be his man," Johnson said in an interview on draft day. "He wants a tough guy and a guy that's going to be there every day and a hard-nosed player."

The Cowboys added veteran center Gennaro DiNapoli earlier this week to help provide insurance at the center position in 2003.

Johnson was a preseason first-team All-American by The Sporting News last year at Wisconsin. At training camp, it didn't take him long to inch his way up the depth chart as we was working mostly with the first team during the week of his injury.

Just like rookie fullback Jamar Martin last year, the Cowboys will now have to wait a full year to realize Johnson's full potential.

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