Tablet Sports

Cowboys’ Romo closer to a return; Jones expects him to play

Tony Romo insists that everyday tasks, like walking, sitting in a chair and tying his shoes, are becoming easier by the day.

As for playing football, the quarterback returned to practice Thursday, and the Dallas Cowboys listed him as limited on their official injury report.

While Romo answered with a less-than-definitive “we’ll see” when asked about his playing status for Sunday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones left no doubt he expects Romo to start in something of a must-win game.

“I’m anticipating him playing, have no reason to think that he won’t,” Jones said Thursday during a 27-minute press conference. “… My expectations are for him to play.”

Romo has two transverse process fractures in his back, which forced him to miss Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals and Wednesday’s practice at Allianz Park in London.

Other quarterbacks have played with the cracks in the small bony projection on either side of a verterbra after a week or more of rest. Baylor’s Bryce Petty cracked two transverse processes Aug. 31 and missed one game before returning for a Sept. 12 game.

“Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Petty said last week when asked about Romo. “He’ll be fine, just like I am. As far as a back injury to have, this is the one to have. It kind of heals itself.”

Romo received a text from former Cowboys teammate Brad Johnson soon after he was injured. Johnson, Daunte Culpepper and Gus Frerotte all played with the injury during their NFL careers.

Culpepper missed two games with the injury during the 2003 season, and Frerotte lost his starting job in 2008 after he was injured.

Johnson had never admitted publicly he had transverse process fractures until this week. He missed the final two games of the 2002 regular season with what he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers termed a severe lower-back bruise.

“I knew [Romo] was in pain,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “There’s nothing you can do about it. It takes time, and taking a pain shot is not going to help. I know exactly how he feels.

“I couldn’t tie my shoes. I couldn’t cough. I couldn’t do anything. I did acupuncture. I did treatment. I drank Crown and Coke. I mean, you do it all, man. Pain is pain, and it wasn’t a matter of tolerating it. I couldn’t tie my shoes, let alone try to take a snap.”

Johnson returned for the playoffs, after a bye week, and the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII.

“I think you find that everyone who’s had it knows it’s uncomfortable,” said Romo, who had Johnson as his backup in Dallas in 2007-08. “You just try and get better and you go play.”

The Cowboys have a bye next week after they return from London. But after back-to-back losses, the Cowboys don’t have the luxury of giving Romo this week off if he is healthy enough to play.

Backup Brandon Weeden was 18-for-33 for 183 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a 55.5 passer rating against Arizona. He has a personal eight-game losing streak, dating to 2012, and the Cowboys are 6-9 without Romo since he became the starter in 2006.

“You take all that stuff into account,” Romo said of the timing of the team’s bye week. “I think you think about last week. You think about it this week. I think that’s part of it that can be there in your brain.

“At the same time, I’m a football player. This is what I do for my life’s work. It’s important to me. I care about playing and competing and helping this football team win. You only are afforded so many opportunities at that, so you want to take advantage of that when you have that opportunity. I think if you love the game, you’ll always try and get on the field.”

6-9 Cowboys record without Tony Romo since he became the starter in 2006.

8 Game losing streak for Brandon Weeden as a starting quarterback. He hasn’t won since 2012.