by Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA–With all the reports saying that Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo will probably miss Sunday night’s game for the NFC East crown against the Eagles, head coach Jason Garrett still is not ruling his starting quarterback out just yet.
Romo has not practiced all week and, according to the Dallas Morning News, hasn’t attended meetings this week as well. Garrett said there are some players who can step in play without practice. If Romo, who has a herniated disc in his back, is feeling better by Sunday evening, he could play.
“We don’t have any hard and fast rules that if he doesn’t practice by this day, he can’t play,” Garrett said during a conference call with the Philadelphia media. “We don’t believe in treating everybody the exact same way in that regard. Certainly a more experienced player is more comfortable and you give him more of an opportunity if he hasn’t practice. Tony would certainly fall into that category.”
That leaves open the possibility that Romo might give fans at Cowboys Stadium a Willis Reed-like moment circa the 1970 NBA Finals. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, back-up quarterback Kyle Orton, who has started 69 games as a pro with 35 wins, said he’s confident because he has weapons like running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten to help him out.
“You just ease your way into the game a little bit and get the ball to the guys that can do great things,” Orton said. “We’ve got plenty of those guys. I’ve been here for a couple of years and so timing is not too big of an issue, so we went out and had a good practice today.”
Though he’s only thrown 15 passes in a Cowboy uniform, Orton told the Dallas media Thursday that he’s no spring chicken and has worked extensively with the starters during minicamp and organized team activities back in May and June while Romo was rehabbing from another injury.
“I’ve been here for a couple of years it wasn’t like I was just walking through the door,” Orton said. “I’ve had plenty of experience with these guys and like I said these guys are great players and they get open.”
With the memory of getting picked apart by a Minnesota Vikings squad playing with a back-up quarterback still fresh in his mind, Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin said the Birds are not taking the Cowboys lightly.
“We saw what happened to us the last time we faced a back up,” Barwin said. “There’s nobody taking anybody lightly this week. … I think (Orton) is hard to get to because he gets the ball off fast. He doesn’t mess around back there. It’s important for us to get our hands up and in get in the way of those.”
On Thursday linebacker Sean Lee was ruled out and Dez Bryant left practice early because of a sore back. With all the injuries cropping up in Cowboys camp these days, it’s easy to say that Dallas has an uphill climb to win on Sunday night against resurgent Eagles squad. Witten said his team doesn’t have time to dwell on their injury woes.
“Obviously, it’s been tough, but now is not the time to feel sorry for yourself,” Witten said. “We’re going out there and so we’re going out there and preparing because we have a tough opponent in the Eagles.”
It would be also easy to say the Cowboys are even more fired up for this game after missing the playoffs in the last two years because they lost in week 17. Witten said the team can’t get too caught up in the emotion of the last two years.
“There’s no question that being in this situation and experiencing what we did the last two years and obviously we came up short, it sits deep in your gut and you feel that,” Witten said. “I really think you have to take the emotion out of it because it’s a new year, a new team.
“What our focus has to be on and needs to continue to be on is what’s going to allow us to execute in a game against a tough opponent?”
That’s a question both teams will know the answer to come Sunday.