Injured quarterback Tony Romo played catch before Monday night’s game in Washington, and the Cowboys intend to keep him off injured reserve as long as they are in the playoff hunt.
Romo suffered a broken left clavicle for the second time this season during the Thanksgiving game against Carolina, and is expected to be sidelined at least six-to-eight weeks.
That will keep him out the rest of the regular season, but the Cowboys want to at least keep the possibility of bringing him back for the postseason an option should they make a run.
“The reason we have not put him on IR is because of the timing of his injury,” coach Jason Garrett said on Tuesday. “We say whatever it is, eight weeks, there is still season left so we’ll play that situation out but we’re all behind Matt [Cassel] and what he’s going to do for our team and we’ll see what happens if we get to that point.”
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Cassel won for the first time in five starts as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback on Monday, being at the helm of a 19-16 victory over the Redskins. Cowboys backup quarterbacks had been 0-9 dating back to the 2011 season in filling in for Romo until Monday, including Cassel losing his first four starts with the team.
But the victory kept the Cowboys in the NFC East hunt, one game back with four to play.
The Cowboys will likely have to finish 3-1, possibly 4-0, in order to win the division. That would seem to mean that Cassel would have to play well down the stretch, and it would be difficult for the Cowboys not to ride the hot hand going into the playoffs.
But Romo is their franchise quarterback and has established himself as one of the better QBs in the league. At the very least, Romo is a more attractive backup should something happen to Cassel than Kellen Moore, who has never taken a regular-season snap.
Garrett wasn’t ready to speculate that far, though, saying: “We’re just focusing on Tuesday.”