Saturday – CBS Sports
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Dallas Cowboys have already seen their starting quarterback get injured yet again. Jason Garrett announced on Saturday that Tony Romo had an MRI taken of his back after sustaining an injury on the third play of Dallas’ third preseason game on Thursday night, and the MRI revealed a broken bone in Romo’s back.
According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Romo is expected to miss 6-10 weeks. Coach Jason Garrett, however, did not rule Romo out for the Cowboys’ Week 1 game against the New York Giants.
This is, of course, not the first serious injury Romo has sustained to his back. He first had back surgery in April 2013, when he underwent a procedure to remove a cyst. The team described the surgery as minor at the time, but he wound up missing all of training camp and OTAs. Later that season, Romo exited a game against Washington with a back injury before returning and leading the team on a game-winning scoring drive. He was subsequently diagnosed with a season-ending herniated disc in his back. He had surgery in December of 2013.
During the 2014 season, he again sustained a back injury during a game against Washington. It was revealed that he had fractured two transverse processes in his back, an injury with which he played the rest of the season, which was arguably the best of his career. In 2015, Romo broke his collar bone for the second and third times in his career, and ultimately played in only four games.
The Cowboys have instituted a plan the last few seasons that involved giving Romo Wednesdays off during the week in order to maintain his health and limit the number of hits he takes. It worked to perfection in 2014 as they went 12-4, won the division, and had one of the league’s most efficient offenses, but it has now failed to keep him healthy two years in a row.
While there is currently limited information available about Romo’s future status (he’s played through a broken back before; there’s certainly a possibility he does so again), here are some things we do know:
1. It’s the Dak Prescott show for however long Romo is out. The Cowboys entered training camp expecting Kellen Moore to be Romo’s primary backup, but he broke his ankle early in camp and is expected to miss the entire season. The Cowboys reportedly chased Nick Foles and others to occupy the spot, but none of those plans came to fruition.
Luckily for them, fourth-round pick Dak Prescott has basically lit the world on fire during the preseason. Prescott had a perfect passer rating through the team’s first two preseason contests, going 22-of-27 for 383 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also added two more touchdowns on the ground. In the team’s third preseason game, Prescott fared adequately against the Seahawks’ first-team defense, finishing 17-of-23 for 116 yards and a score. His yards per attempt figure sunk way down, but he kept the ball away from the other team and led the Cowboys on two scoring drives.
The Cowboys have to feel good about what they’ve seen from Prescott so far, but even Jerry Jones would likely admit that they’re not entirely comfortable with him as their starter just yet (assuming you got him off the record and with a glass of his beloved Johnny Walker Blue in his hand). The Cowboys drafted Prescott as a bit of a project and wanted him to learn the ropes behind Romo until he was ready to take over full-time. Now, it appears he may be pushed into the starting role right away, at least for a little while.
2. So when exactly will Romo return? No one knows that for sure. But, as La Canfora reports, it appears the Cowboys quarterback will return somewhere between six to 10 weeks. Romo has two weeks to heal before the season and the Cowboys have a bye week in Week 7.
3. Now the Cowboys really have to go looking for a backup. The only other quarterback the Cowboys have on the roster is second-year undrafted free agent Jameill Showers. Showers was a backup at Texas A&M for two seasons (behind Ryan Tannehill and then Johnny Manziel) before he transferred to UTEP. In two years as UTEP’s starter (he missed five games), he threw for 3,121 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while also running for 507 yards and eight touchdowns. He spent most of the 2015 season on the practice squad, but was signed to the active roster in December. He was, however, declared inactive for the final two games.
Information courtesy of CBS Sports