If Tony Romo is going to levitate from the trainer’s table, part the seas, multiply the fishes and quarterback the Dallas Cowboys against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, he’d better get moving.
Romo and his ailing back took another Wednesday off, as has been his season-long custom. And you know what that nursery rhyme says about Wednesdays:
Wednesday’s child is full of woe.
Thursday’s child has far to go.
For Romo, who’s always been a Sunday kind of kid, that makes Thursday’s practice at Allianz Park highly intriguing.
Can he throw? Can he escape a blitzing linebacker? Can he bend over and tie his shoelaces?
Those are suddenly critical questions, and woe will be the Cowboys if they don’t answer them correctly.
“We talk,” coach Jason Garrett said, giving the almost hourly Romo injury report. “Feedback matters. All of these things are medical decisions. It’s really important for our medical team to weigh in on what our players have.
“But getting feedback from the player as to how they feel and how they handle the workload is really, really important.”
OK, but is Romo playing Sunday or not?
They don’t know yet. Neither does Romo himself, if I’m reading the daily soap-opera tea leaves correctly.
The Cowboys and their quarterback, however, have painted this image of Romo, your gallant $108 million warrior, itching to chew through his surgery stitches and lash himself to a goal post, demanding that he start.
“His mindset is he is the ultimate competitor,” tight end Jason Witten said Wednesday. “He really is. His whole perspective is, ‘I want to win.’ That toughness flows throughout.”
Maybe it does, but ill-placed bravado can be fraught with risks. Romo’s heroic return to the Washington game didn’t exactly save the day, did it?
And what about Romo himself?
Sunday’s foe at Wembley Stadium, Jacksonville, has a 1-8 record. But after the Cowboys’ bye week, they play four of the final six on the road, including contests against Chicago, Indianapolis and Washington and two games against Philadelphia.
A healed and rested Romo, it seems to me, would be much more valuable to the Cowboys in those final six games than he would be Sunday. Didn’t the Cowboys sign backup QB Brandon Weeden, just so they would have somebody who could beat the Jaguars on days like this?
Weeden’s ragged performance while losing to Arizona 28-17 on Sunday changed everything — the Cowboys’ veneer of invincibility, Weeden’s future, Romo’s pain-relief dosages. Everything.
Poor Weeden. His losing performance against the Cardinals reminded Cowboys fans of another quarterback who hit a pothole in his first extended playing time — three interceptions thrown, including one that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown.
Wait a minute. That was Romo, against the New York Giants, eight years ago.
Maybe the big contract — and all expectations attached therein — is what is motivating Romo to ignore the broken bones in his back and get back in the huddle. When an injured player argues with the team doctor about returning and/or being given a pain injection, as Romo reportedly did in the Washington game, what’s a team to do?
“It’s always a medical decision first,” Garrett said of the delicate balance between football and medicine. “The doctors and the trainers, they’re the experts in the area.
“I think that’s part of the whole evaluation process. We, as coaches, the football people, we’re more interested in function. How is the player functioning?”
So far this week, of course, Garrett has seen nothing. Which should be concerning to the coaches.
“We want to see the same thing we want from all of our players,” Garrett said. “We want players to practice three days prior to the game, but sometimes that’s not the case. So you deal with the situation as it is.”
For the Cowboys, therefore, Thursday’s child, indeed, still has far to go.
He needs the practice. He needs the blocking.
But Romo also needs to understand that he has to approach the rest of the Cowboys’ season with restraint and caution.
Sundays like this coming one are what the Brandon Weedens are for.