SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Romo wasn't the first player on the practice field Thursday. He wasn't the last. He didn't yell at his teammates. Yet, he wasn't passive with them either.
Love his leadership style or not, the Cowboys quarterback is what he is. His position dictates that he is the team leader, whether he is as emotional as you want him to be or not.
"From my perspective, you're always in a leadership role playing the quarterback position," Romo said.
Much has been made about Romo sitting, watching and possibly learning from Jon Kitna the last 10 games of last season when Romo was injured. It's true that Kitna is a natural leader. It's true that Romo could have -- should have! -- learned from Kitna last season.
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Teammates, regardless of race or position, gravitate to Kitna. He runs a well-attended team Bible study on Fridays during the season, and every day at lunch, he is in the locker room with teammates, playing cards, laughing and having fun.
Kitna is one of my favorite all-time players. He is a class act, and I think any player or person, for that matter, can learn from Kitna simply by watching how he lives his life.
But despite the headline made by Martellus Bennett this off-season, or the sentiment of a segment of Cowboys Nation, Kitna isn't the Cowboys' quarterback of the present or the future.
Kitna has never had the talent Romo has, and he's 38, going on retirement. This is Romo's team until it's not.
The game is about winning, not leading, and it doesn't take a fiery quarterback to win.
"Every guy has his style, and he has to be who he is," Kitna agreed. "As long as you're consistent, guys will follow that.
"As a quarterback, you've naturally been given the position of leadership. So you have that. And it is about winning. I think about Kurt Warner. Here's a guy who won the Super Bowl his first year, goes back to the Super Bowl two years later and just loses and then the next year is losing his job. It is about that. He goes to New York and nobody wants him. He's washed up. Then, he finds himself again in Arizona. Same guy, never changed. People respect consistency as long as you come in every day and do the same thing."
As good of a leader as Kitna was last season, he was 4-5 as a starter. He is Romo's backup and is fine with his place.
"I said from the day that I got traded here two years ago, and I'll say it again now: The best thing for this football team is for Tony to take every snap," Kitna said. "You see what I mean: Two years ago, he took every snap; we went to the playoffs and won a game in the playoffs, and things were pretty good. Last year, he goes down, and I had to take a ton of reps, and we didn't have a very good season. It's just not good for your football team when you have to change quarterbacks during the season."
Every Cowboys fan knows Romo has one playoff win in 4 1/2 seasons as a starter. Romo knows it, too.
But until last year, Romo had won more playoff games than Aaron Rodgers. He still has more postseason victories than Matt Ryan, and only one less than Michael Vick.
The perception of Rodgers changed after he won the Super Bowl in February. Ben Roethlisberger hasn't always been a great leader. There was one season his teammates didn't elect him captain. Did it matter?
If the Cowboys win, Romo will be hailed a leader. If they don't, he won't be the Cowboys quarterback for more than the three years he has left on his contract.
"It's a short life; it's a short career," coach Jason Garrett said. "We try to make that point to our team as coaches all the time, and we try to live it. You have to take advantage of the opportunities, and this is Tony's opportunity to be quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and he [has to make sure he] goes about it the right way, takes full advantage of it."
The lockout might have been the best thing to ever happen to Romo. By necessity, he was forced to organize and run the players-only, on-field practices.
By nature or not, he was forced to be the vocal leader.
"I think anytime you're basically controlling the time, and the practices and the whistle, you're in a position that is going to get everybody to be on the same page, to be out there and committed to working hard," Romo said. "You've got to rally the troops, and get guys going. It's not that hard with a lot of the veteran leadership we have on this club. I just need to get the individual guys at each position group to buy in -- the leaders. Once they did, it was easy from that standpoint."
Yes, the Cowboys need more out of Romo. He likely would agree. He hasn't played his best when it matters most. But the Cowboys are betting that his best is yet to come.
Follow Charean Williams from Cowboys camp in San Antonio on Twitter @NFL_Charean.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7697