IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff answers a question about the health of quarterback Tony Romo.
2) How much will Tony Romo's back injury affect him?
Rowan Kavner: I don't expect it to be a major issue, at least initially. I actually expect him to be in better shape at training camp this year than he was last year. That said, the longer he plays, the longer one hit can change his season and career, and I worry more about him in the later weeks of the year. My main concern is that his ability to spin and buy time in the pocket could be compromised, and if that's the case, he loses what made him so
special. The Cowboys' offense can't just dink and dunk and put itself in more third-down situations. Those haven't been particularly favorable for a Dallas offense that needs to be spectacular this year. In addition, there were plenty of times last year before the major injury where Romo could have run for first downs and decided not to. This offense can't afford for that to happen. It'll be a struggle if Romo can't buy time or run when he needs to, but my guess is this offensive line keeps him on his feet enough to finish the year.
David Helman: Maybe I'm just buying into the team's narrative, but I honestly don't think this is going to be an issue at all. Romo did more work this offseason than last during OTAs and minicamp – for that matter, we've even seen video of him playing soccer during his downtime this summer. It really seems like he has fully recovered and the Cowboys are being cautious with him. I think he'll be a full-go for the start of training camp, and I've got to like his odds of staying healthy behind the talented offensive line this team has assembled. My big question for Romo this season is: will his surgery help him stretch the field more often? He didn't bomb the ball downfield very often last year, and many people speculate it's because of his back issues. Will the relief of surgery help him open up his arm a little bit more? I'm guessing that he's fully healthy, and he'll be more willing to let it rip than he was last fall.
Nick Eatman:I think the question is when it affects him. I'm sure he's ready to go or somewhat ready by the start of camp. They'll be smart and monitor him and make sure he gets himself ready to play that first game vs. San Francisco in Week 1. If that means not [embedded_ad] playing some of the preseason games, then I'm sure they'll do that. But the question I have is how many hits he can take on the back? Is it like brand new? Or does he have fewer clean shots he can take to that area that might put us back where he was before. Being ready to play is one thing, but being vulnerable to further injury is another. The Cowboys are confident he will be ready and there's no reason to believe that. But he's had some recent history of back issues and you wonder if it can hold up. But I don't think it will affect the way he plays. That was evident in that Redskins game when he saved the game with the injury that ultimately shelved him.
Bryan Broaddus: In talking with various members of the Cowboys front office, medical staff and even Romo himself - to a man they all feel confident that the back is in the best shape possible going into this camp. With that being said, I am confident that we should see the same quarterback under center that we have seen in these last 12 seasons. If his back were to give him a problem, it would be with his mobility and that would affect a huge part of his game. Romo's ability to avoid the rush while buying that second chance on the move has been his greatest trait. For Romo it has never been an issue dealing with rushers that attack him from the outside because of his ability to turn, spin and dodge but you take that away from him, he is a totally different quarterback and that is something that this offense cannot afford to have happen if it is going to be success.