Romo defends Bryant's passion to play the game

Posted Thursday, Nov. 03, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo defended receiver Dez Bryant when asked about his sideline antics in the 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. Bryant was seen throwing his helmet during an apparent rant.

Romo said he had no problem with Bryant's emotions.

"Dez is great," Romo said. "His emotion, there is never a negative emotion that comes from it. It's just positive consistently. He's just a kid who loves playing the game. He's passionate. But there is never any malice or anything negative involved. Cameras can catch whatever they want; he is never mean to another person or anything like that. He just wants to win and he's excited about being out there playing. We're lucky to have him."

Romo also shot down any comparisons to former Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens, whose antics on the sideline and in the locker room divided the team.

"Dez has done nothing that takes away from anything," Romo said. "Dez does a great job. He's a great teammate."

Coach Jason Garrett agreed.

"Dez is a very passionate guy," Garrett said. "We like guys who are passionate about football, no question about that. Any emotion is really positive. Dez loves playing football. You can see that if you watch him practice and watch him play.

"Certainly as the game goes on we are trying to communicate on the sideline. Guys are animated, Romo, [Jason] Witten and all those guys. We think that is good. We have to make sure that the passion focuses on what is going to happen in the game going forward. We have been good at that as a team."

The numbers game

The declining numbers in the passing game -- namely a sudden lack of vertical throws -- might suggest that the Cowboys are reining in turnover-prone quarterback Tony Romo. His yards per attempts are down, not just from past years but from earlier this year.

The Cowboys say it's more the result of their adjustments for an inexperienced and banged-up line, the lack of opportunities and a heavier emphasis on the run than an avoidance of having Romo make throws down the field.

Romo, who has averaged less than three pass plays of 20 yards or more the past three weeks after connecting on almost six per game the first four games, was put off by the question.

"That just seems silly," Romo said. "You guys just have different numbers that tell you whatever. It's the opponents you're going against. You have more time, you're able to take shots downfield. When you have less... that's part of it. When you're running the ball, well, you're able to take more. There's a lot that goes into it. We're always pushing the ball down the field. From week to week, that will vary here and there."

Jason Garrett said the Cowboys dialed things down against the Washington Redskins, the first game Romo played with a fractured rib. He has gotten healthier each week and while he will still wear the protective vest against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, he might not take a pain-killing injection before the game for the first time.

The bigger problem has been the flux on the offensive line because of youth and injuries. The Cowboys started the season with three first-year starters, including two rookies at center, guard and tackle.

"When you are playing young guys, that is part of it," Garrett said. "Having young guys play early in the season impacts the football team, the run game and the pass game. That is the nature of it."

Ware's record watch

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is on pace for a 27-sack season, an NFL record. New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan owns the NFL record with a 22.5-sack season in 2001. The Cowboys recognize Harvey Martin's 23 sacks in 1977 as their team record, though sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982.

"As a pass rusher, you're always aware of what [sack numbers] you have," Ware said Thursday. "But you just don't talk about it. You just go out there and keep working, and at the end of the season, you just hope you're where you need to be."

Ware twice has led the league in sacks. He has 12 sacks this season, second to Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen's 12.5.

Injury report

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee hasn't practiced this week, and it seems unlikely he'll play Sunday against the Seahawks. But the Cowboys are fitting his dislocated left wrist with a cast just in case.

Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) returned to practice Thursday, though he was limited. He missed practice for the first time this season Wednesday, resting his plantar fascia. "He got through most everything," Jason Garrett said. "I thought he had a good practice. Today, he came back and had a pretty full practice and seemed like he was moving around OK."

Cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and running back Felix Jones (ankle) did not practice. Jenkins likely will miss the next three games. Jones could miss his third consecutive game as he recovers from a high ankle sprain.

Punter Mat McBriar was limited as he recovers from nerve damage in his left (plant) foot and ankle. Quarterback Tony Romo (ribs) had a full practice.

Clarence Hill Jr., 817-390-7760

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