Dallas Cowboys

In his own words: Tony Romo talks about his back rehab, practice plan and season outlook

Much has been made about what appears to be disconnect between Tony Romo and the organization. Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett have both said the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback is 100 percent after having surgery to repair a herniated disk in December, but Romo has practiced intermittently so far in training camp.

Romo has gone two practices on and one practice off for the first week of camp. But he is free and clear to do everything, explaining that it’s all about a progression in his rehab and work load with the goal of being ready for the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

Romo, who had one point after the surgery couldn’t lift his kids and still doesn’t play golf, said a final decision has yet to be made on how much he plays in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers next Thursday, if at all.

“It’s a fluid-type thing in that you plan for a week but you’re really planning for a couple of days and then you adjust,” Romo said. “I talked to the trainers and they’re like, ‘Well, you did a lot. You had this many throws. Let’s take tomorrow off.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I feel good.’ They’re like, ‘No, let’s stay ahead of that and da-da-da-da. And then you go in and they’re like, ‘How did it feel after two days? How did it feel after the morning and then the afternoon and then after the lift and after all the other stuff that you did? You’re constantly evaluating it and you’re constantly, I don’t want to say adjusting because you stuck to the plan, but it’s a progression. It’s leading up to San Francisco. I am going to play in the preseason obviously. I think it’s important. The first game, we’ll talk about it as we move into the weekend.”

Does he consider himself 100 percent?

“I am 100 percent. Yeah. I am 100 percent. But it’s like you have to always work at something if that makes sense. You would like to be smart coming back. If it was up to me, I am going to do everything. And then they’ll say, ‘You’re done. You did too much’ As an athlete and competitor, that’s what we do sometimes. We go, go, go and then you’re hurt, and you’re out instead of being smart. So that’s why we have a lot of people that are smart and take this progression a long way.”

Will he continue to practice two one, one off?

“Yeah, I know you kind of want to pigeonhole me to kind of see if I didn’t do something right. But I think more than anything it’s nothing more than what we planned for two days. And then we adjust. We had a week plan starting off but we’re getting towards the end of a week and a half with whatever we started with. We’ll continue to do the same thing. I want to make sure it’s progressing and continuing to go forward. They’re going to try and have me sit out more than I want to. But that’s also they’re smart and they know what they’re doing.”

What the conditioning like on a day off?

“My days are, whether you practice or not, you have a lot of other things you have to do just to continue to improve and get better and obviously with the back but also as an athlete and a competitor. That’s what I’ll do day in and day out. There’s multiple things. Each day has got certain things that are way structured the same and there are things other days that you have to do.”

How much more time in training room this year than last?

“I’ll probably spend more. That’s also because I want to ensure the fact I can practice as much as humanely possible, that you can be there. When you watch me play, I doubt it looked any different to the naked eye. And it doesn’t because you’re going through it and you feel great. And then you did a little bit much because you lifted and you did eliptical and then you went and did jumps or something then all of a sudden you’re like OK, it’s sore, it’s heavy. And then all of a sudden it’s like OK, I’ve got a cold tub. OK, it’s going to take two more hours. Let’s wait until tomorrow. Oh, you’re great again. It’s an injury that’s a little different because it’s not like you just go boom, you’re back. You have to always manage it. It would be like if someone had an ACL. It takes a long time to strengthen. They’re back and they can go, but are they really back? You don’t know. If you get hurt again it’s like why did you come back so early. But if they’re healthy enough to go…But are they really as strong…You’ve got to be smart and not do something stupid.”

Jerry Jones said it’s your call, you’re saying it’s the trainers call, what gives?

“Well, I mean we talk and ultimately they’re going to make the decision. I’m going to tell them how I’m feeling and I have to be as honest as I can be with them. If they let me go, I’m always going to push the envelope.”

How can be 100 percent when practicing less?

“I think it’s how you look at 100 percent. I can do everything 100 percent. Your body isn’t intelligent to work and do everything as if you didn’t have the surgery. I can do everything, but it’s just not smart to pretend like you didn’t have surgery and do everything. So we have to be intelligent.”

Has the back given you more challenges?

“No. I think it’s exactly what ... the process has gone kind of like we thought. I said it before, it’s just a little unknown so you’d rather play it safe than be silly and just go out and do everything over and over again and all of a sudden have to sit out for a week or so. I think more than anything we’re playing the long game and I think that’s smart.”

Where are you most limited?

“I don’t think there’s anything I’m limited by. I mean I can do everything. The difference is just how many times or how long and I think that for me that’s one thing you have to kind of get to know. It’ would be like if someone comes off an ACL or something, they have a progression that takes shape and they’ll push it and work real hard in the morning. It’s like Well can you do something in the afternoon? Well I feel like I can. Ah. You’re not quite there with that part of it yet. And you got to continue to develop until that strengthens and get sot that point. I think it’s just … there’s consistent progress that takes shape and you have to adjust to what your body tells you.”

Do feel like your old self?

“Well you’re never going to...I mean after back surgery or like after any surgery you’re always going to have to work hard at that. I’ll have to, Not everyone knows but once you have back surgery you kind of have to change the way you do things. You have to constantly work on your glutes, your hamstrings, your abs and strengthen everything around that area and so life will be different after that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do the things that it takes to be successful on the field or whatever you want to do. There’s been plenty of people who’ve done it. You just got to go do it. It just takes work.”

What do you do in therapy?

“You do the cold tub three times a day, which isn’t always the funnest thing. You do that. You do laser, you do your glutes, you do your abs. You do your hamstrings. There’s like 10 other things that I’ll be doing but I don’t want to bore you.”

Did you talk to Troy Aikman about his back issues?

“Yeah, I talked to him. You talk to a lot of people. Troy is one of them. He went through it. Like I said, you have to change your routine. Instead of just going in and bench pressing and doing these other things that you do to get yourself ready, you need to incorporate this routine as part of it. You strengthen all of those areas around it.

Is routine Aikman had in 93 same as now?

“It’s pretty much the same. Somewhere along the way someone found out if you strengthen everything around there, your back doesn’t get used as much. So that’s what you do.If anything, it will probably help you because those are areas you need to strengthen anyway. I think what you find is all of those guys who are doing a lot of that stuff are younger now. They’re finding out the core is what keeps you healthy. More trainers and more people are incorporating that into their systems than they were 15-20 years ago.”

Any golf with your offensive lineman?

“ No. There is no golf. I think they may play. But I’m not playing. They’re not very good anyway so that wouldn’t be much fun.”

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