The present invention includes a surgical stapler having a staple cartridge, an anvil, and a cutting member having a cutting surface, wherein the cutting member is relatively movable with respect to the anvil and the staple cartridge. In at least one embodiment, the anvil is movable between an open position and a partially-closed position. When the anvil is in its partially-closed position, the anvil and the staple cartridge can be configured to capture tissue therebetween without fully compressing the tissue. In at least one embodiment, the anvil includes a proximal portion, a distal portion, and a middle portion intermediate the proximal portion and the distal portion. In these embodiments, the tissue can be captured between the proximal and distal portions of the anvil before the middle portion of the anvil is brought into contact with the tissue.