Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones still is hopeful that quarterback Tony Romo will play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday despite a possible herniated disk in Romo’s back that could require surgery.
Romo is getting treatment, and the doctors will make a final determination on his status later in the week.
The Cowboys are getting backup Kyle Orton ready to start if necessary — a situation Jones prepared for when he signed Orton before the 2012 season.
“We paid a lot of money several years ago for just this very circumstance,” Jones said on his Tuesday morning radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. “Kyle has a very strong arm, he’s very experienced. If required, he’ll be able to step in and do as good under the circumstances as you could expect.”
The Cowboys signed Orton to a three-year, $10.5 million deal, with a $5 million signing bonus, before the 2012 season as an insurance policy.
He is 35-34 in his career as a starter but has played only three games — all in mop-up duty — since Dallas signed him. Orton completed 17 of 22 passes for 158 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the preseason.
“I want to emphasize that this backup quarterback was a starter,” Jones said of Orton, who started two full seasons each for Chicago and Denver.
Jones said the Cowboys have enough weapons on offense to win with Orton.
He certainly feels better about the Cowboys making up for the loss of Romo with what they have around Orton on offense rather than relying on the team’s last-place defense to pick up the slack.
“We got enough offense with Kyle,” Jones said. “We’ve got a better supporting cast to win a ballgame and to do what we need to do to win than what we have on defense.”
The Cowboys will sign former quarterback Jon Kitna as a backup, according to a source.
Kitna played in 13 games with the Cowboys from 2009-2011, including nine starts during the 2010 season.
Kitna saw his first action as a Cowboy in 2010 after Romo was injured against the New York Giants and went on to start nine games. He completed 209 of 318 passes for 2,365 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a passer rating of 88.9.
The Cowboys worked out five players on Tuesday before deciding on Kitna. The others were John Skelton, David Carr, Tyler Thigpen and Richard Bartel.
Kitna retired after the 2011 season. He played 15 seasons in the league, including stops in Seattle, Cincinnati and Detroit. He has been coaching high school football and teaching math at his alma mater, Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash.
Waiting on Lee
The Cowboys hope middle linebacker Sean Lee can return, but he hasn’t been cleared by doctors, forcing the team to make backup plans.
Lee has missed the past two games with a sprained ligament in his neck.
With Ernie Sims and Justin Durant also injured, rookie DeVonte Holloman replaced Lee on Sunday.