Romo full go at prac­tice, and run­ning scout team

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

FRISCO, TEXAS » Tony Romo stretched along­side Jason Wit­ten early in prac­tice for the Dal­las Cow­boys, just as they’ve done for most of the past 10 years.

Then the 36-year-old quar­ter­back went off to run the scout team, and his trusty tight end joined the first-team­ers along with rookie Dak Prescott, who has a seven-game win­ning streak fill­ing in for Romo.

The Dal­las starter for a decade, Romo was a full prac­tice par­tic­i­pant Wed­nes­day for the first time since break­ing a bone in his back in a pre­sea­son game in Au­gust, his fourth back in­jury in less than four years.

That didn’t change his spot in the peck­ing or­der, which in­cludes vet­eran Mark Sanchez, the backup to Prescott the first eight games. There’s no rea­son to change with Dal­las (7-1) surg­ing to the best record in the NFC.

“He’s champ­ing at the bit,” coach Jason Gar­rett said. “But you know we’ll watch him to­day at prac­tice and see how he does.”

Gar­rett said the starter usu­ally gets al­most all the reps with the first team in prac­tice, and noted an ex­cep­tion the Cow­boys made last week when Sanchez ran some sit­u­a­tional stuff with the starters Fri­day.

The next step is deter­min­ing when Romo will be ac­tive on game day, with the first op­por­tu­nity Sun­day at Pitts­burgh (4-4).

Even Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger, who went 13-0 in the reg­u­lar sea­son as a rookie starter in 2004, doesn’t see that the Cow­boys have much choice.

“Tak­ing noth­ing away from Tony,” said Roeth­lis­berger, who has won two Su­per Bowls and been named to four Pro Bowls. “He’s been do­ing it, Pro Bowl, like you said, at a high level. But when you’re win­ning football games, it’s re­ally hard to re­place that one spot.”

Romo hasn’t spo­ken to re­porters since he was in­jured Aug. 25 at Seat­tle. Prescott, who has 12 touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions and the fourth-best passer rat­ing be­hind Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, made his usual Wed­nes­day ap­pear­ance and said all the same things on the Romo front.

“I don’t re­ally think about if I’ve done enough or what I’ve done,” Prescott said.

Gar­rett said Romo re­joined the quar­ter­back meet­ings last week, and Prescott said Romo is “noth­ing but help” when he’s around, which is more of­ten now that he’s mostly moved be­yond re­hab from the in­jury.

“Kind of the same stuff he was do­ing on the field. It’s just I’m get­ting it ear­lier in the week,” Prescott said. “I’m get­ting it Mon­day, Tues­day in­stead of com­ing Sun­day.”

Gar­rett dodged ques­tions whether there was still a med­i­cal com­po­nent in the de­ci­sion and what the coaches would need to see to de­ter­mine whether to ac­ti­vate him on Sun­day. Romo was in­ac­tive for the first eight games.

Romo was on the prac­tice field the past two weeks, but either listed as lim­ited or not par­tic­i­pat­ing. At times, he was ab­sent from the early part of prac­tice but ap­peared later. He was out there from the start Wed­nes­day.

The fran­chise leader in pass­ing yards and touch­downs has missed 20 of the past 22 games, and is clos­ing in on the an­niver­sary of his last start. He threw three in­ter­cep­tions in the first half of a Thanks­giv­ing loss to Carolina be­fore break­ing his left col­lar­bone for the sec­ond time last sea­son.

“I think it’s all just stages, get­ting the guys closer and ready to play in a game,” Gar­rett said. “Tony hasn’t played in a game in nearly a year. So you want to get a guy out there again and again and again, mov­ing around with peo­ple around him.”

As each week passes, owner and gen­eral man­ager Jerry Jones shows less ur­gency about set­tling the Romo mat­ter.

“Any­body with any sense knows that Tony would like to be play­ing,” Jones said on his ra­dio show Tues­day. “The key thing that I want to em­pha­size that we prob­a­bly are never go­ing to have this to­tally sorted out. He’s re­ally got to be ready to go at the top of his game. We have the lux­ury of get­ting him that ready.”

And Romo has the scout team reps to show it.

“He’s champ­ing at the bit. But you know we’ll watch him to­day at prac­tice and see how he does.”

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