Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says one reason he didn’t draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was because he couldn’t see him backing up starter Tony Romo four or five years.
Jones always believed that the 34-year Romo has four or five more years left in him and is even more entrenched in that thinking because of the team’s shift from a pass-happy offense to a run-oriented attack.
Jones said the results in 2014, based on the success of NFL-leading rusher DeMarco Murray and the best offensive line in football that powered the Cowboys to Sunday’s NFC divisional-round playoffs against the Green Bay Packers, make him believe that Romo can play longer.
Romo is coming off back surgeries in each of the past two years.
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“I think it’s more suited, when you run the ball as much as we’re running it, probably more conducive to protection,” Jones said. “And obviously, handing the ball off, you’re a little less vulnerable to taking the hit than you are to dropping back and throwing it. But, yeah, I’d say that’s the case.”
There has been a lot of talk about what a run to the Super Bowl would do for Romo’s legacy.
He owns nearly all the Cowboys’ passing records, but has long been criticized for his lack of postseason success. He has two playoff wins after last Sunday’s wild-card victory against the Detroit Lions. It all pales in comparison to past Cowboys quarterbacks, who include two-time Super Bowl champion Roger Staubach and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Aikman.
Romo could take another step toward completing his legacy with a victory in Green Bay, putting the Cowboys in the NFC title game and one win from the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season.
Jones doesn’t deny that he wants that dream fulfilled for Romo, but says he wants it just as much, if not more, for coach Jason Garrett because of what it would mean for his career.
“If Tony gets his, there’s no question that defines in many ways him and what can be said about him, even though he’s very accomplished right now,” Jones said. “But you could say the same thing about tight end Jason Witten. You could say the same thing about any one of those offensive linemen as a group, you can say it about Jason
“I can tell you right now a Super Bowl, it would be a dream for Jason and it would be my dream for Jason. Let’s not say it’s Jason’s dream, but my dream for Jason Garrett.”
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey and linebacker Rolando McClain still weren’t practicing on Thursday. Each came a little after practice started for rehab work on the field.
Mincey and McClain had concussion-like symptoms suffered during the wild-card game against Detroit.
McClain didn’t play in the second half, although it was announced that he had left with dehydration/illness. But he also was tested for a concussion, and it was later revealed that he is also dealing with neck soreness.
“Those guys are doing a lot better though,” Garrett said.
Linebacker Anthony Hitchens (right ankle sprain) didn’t practice Thursday. He injured his ankle in the regular-season finale at Washington, and didn’t practice the next week. He took 33 snaps against Detroit.
Defensive tackle Terrell McClain (ankle) and right tackle Doug Free (ankle) did not practice.
Jones spent much of the spring and summer lamenting the team’s decision to pass on Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft. Jones was talked into taking Notre Dame guard Zack Martin with the 16th overall pick, even though he says Manziel was ranked higher on the team’s draft board.
Jones said Martin has played beyond expectations as an instant impact player on the best offensive line in football. He was one of three Cowboys linemen named to the Pro Bowl and one of two named first-team All-Pro.
“Martin has been beyond any expectation that I or anyone else had,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of people thinking that he might be the best draft pick that they’ve seen, certainly in this past draft.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr.