The Dallas Cowboys were adamant after Sunday’s game against Arizona that Tony Romo would be traveling to London and they had no second thoughts about it Monday, a couple hours before their chartered plane departed.
Romo joined the rest of his teammates on the nine-hour flight with the hope that he and his surgically-repaired back will recover enough to play in Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Asked if he felt Romo would be able to play, coach Jason Garrett said: “Absolutely. Feel better today and get through the flight, feel good when he gets over there and we’ll take it day-by-day this week.
“We’re certainly hopeful that he has a chance to play this week.”
By taking Romo to London, the Cowboys are sending a strong message that they aren’t taking anything for granted against the 1-8 Jaguars. They can’t afford to drop a third consecutive game, which would be their longest losing streak since 2010, particularly against one of the worst teams in the league.
It’s a nervous time for the Cowboys, executive vice president Stephen Jones admitted during an interview on KRLD-FM, saying: “We got to play better than what we did yesterday.”
With Romo out and Brandon Weeden taking over, the Cowboys fell at home 28-17 to Arizona. All Romo could do from the sidelines was watch Weeden struggle.
Romo has been diagnosed with two fractures in his transverse process, a small bone in the lower back that sticks out on either side of the vertebra, and rest is the only way to heal it and subdue the pain.
If Weeden would have led the Cowboys to a victory, maybe they would be more willing to let Romo take another week off. Coupled with next week’s bye, that would have given Romo close to a month off before going into the schedule’s stretch run.
But that, apparently, isn’t an attractive option. Even though Garrett claimed the team still has faith in Weeden, he also acknowledged that Weeden had issues going through his progressions.
“Anytime you’re talking about a young quarterback, that’s something they have to develop as a skill to be able to go from receiver to receiver,” Garrett said. “That’s something all young quarterbacks go through. Brandon hasn’t started that many games. I don’t think that’s a big issue, but it did show up a couple times in this game.”
That’s why the Cowboys want Romo to return and feel like he’ll be able to do enough this week in practice. His schedule remains to be determined, although his regular routine so far has him sitting out Wednesday practices.
But Garrett said there isn’t anything Romo “has to” show the team throughout the week in order to start Sunday.
“We never have the ‘have-tos,’ right?” Garrett said. “There is never an ultimatum that he has to do this or he can’t do this. Hopefully he progresses. He’s gotten better and better every day since the injury, and hopefully he will feel better from a pain standpoint.
“Tony is certainly a tough guy. He’s physically tough and he’s mentally tough, and typically quarterbacks in this league are that. There are some great stories about guys coming back, playing through things, and Tony certainly has a lot of his own.”
There are examples of quarterbacks returning from Romo’s injury after missing only one game. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty did it earlier this season, missing a game in September before returning.
“He’ll be fine, just like I am,” Petty said. “As far as a back injury to have, this is the one to have. It kind of heals itself. He’ll be all right.”
Garrett said he expected every player to make the trip to London, including linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford.
McClain and Crawford each suffered right knee injuries in Sunday’s loss, and underwent MRI tests Monday morning.
“We’ll see,” Garrett said. “We’re going to get the information on it today.”
Owner Jerry Jones said after the game that McClain’s injury is believed to be less serious than Crawford’s.
The Cowboys released fullback Nikita Whitlock from the practice squad and signed defensive end Lavar Edwards.
The Cowboys’ game Sunday against the Jaguars in London will be their 10th on foreign soil and their first in the regular season. They are 1-7-1 in nine preseason games on foreign soil:
|Aug. 3, 1986||London||Bears 17, Cowboys 6|
|Aug. 2, 1992||Tokyo||Oilers 34, Cowboys 23|
|Aug. 8, 1993||London||Cowboys 13, Lions 13|
|Aug. 15, 1994||Mexico City||Oilers 6, Cowboys 0|
|Aug. 12, 1995||Toronto||Bills 9, Cowboys 7|
|Aug. 5, 1996||Monterrey, Mexico||Chiefs 32, Cowboys 6|
|Aug. 17, 1998||Mexico City||Patriots 21, Cowboys 3|
|Aug. 6, 2000||Tokyo||Falcons 20, Cowboys 9|
|Aug. 27, 2001||Mexico City||Cowboys 21, Raiders 6|