Tony Romo returns to field for Cowboys; Kyle Orton absent

04/21/2014 9:07 PM

04/21/2014 11:37 PM

The Dallas Cowboys welcomed back Tony Romo and the rest of their players Monday as the team’s off-season workouts began at Valley Ranch.

Romo celebrated his 34th birthday with his teammates, working on strength and conditioning. Romo participated in “some” on-field conditioning drills, according to a source.

He underwent back surgery Dec. 27 to repair a herniated disk, missing the final game of the regular season. The Cowboys have said all along Romo was ahead in his rehabilitation and expected back for the off-season program.

Though he will likely be limited, Romo is expected to do more this off-season than he did a year ago. He missed much of the 2013 off-season program after having a cyst removed from his back in April.

Dallas signed former Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden as a free agent last month to give them another arm in the off-season program.

The Cowboys continue the strength and conditioning portion of their off-season program over the next two weeks. Players can lift weights, run and conduct football activities on the practice field without coaches present.

The Cowboys will hold organized team activities May 27-29, June 2, June 4-5 and June 9-12. The team’s mandatory minicamp is June 17-19.

Orton absent

Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was not at Valley Ranch for Day 1 of the team’s off-season program, according to sources.

The workouts are voluntary, and a source said the team remains hopeful Orton eventually shows up.

Orton was wavering on whether to retire, but Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last month that after talking to Orton’s agent, David Dunn, the team expected Orton to return.

Orton would have to repay the Cowboys $3 million of his $5 million signing bonus if he calls it quits. He is scheduled to make $3.25 million in base salary this season.

Orton, 31, played in the regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles after Tony Romo had back surgery. Orton completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as Dallas lost the win-or-go-home game.

Orton has played in four games, with one start, in two seasons in Dallas.

The Cowboys signed Weeden last month. But they have not carried three quarterbacks on their 53-player roster since 2011, when Stephen McGee served as a developmental prospect after the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Costa retires

Former Cowboys center/guard Phil Costa has retired, the Indianapolis Colts announced Monday. Indianapolis placed Costa on the reserve/retired list.

“Phil feels it’s in his best interest to retire from the game,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “We certainly understand and wish him nothing but the best.”

Costa, 26, spent four seasons with the Cowboys before signing a two-year, $3.5 million deal with the Colts last month. He played in 26 games with the Cowboys, including 20 starts.

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