FRISCO, Texas – Tony Romo has undergone the scheduled MRI on his back, and everything appears to check out for a healthy return.
"The result was just as we expected, and he can really – I'll put it like this, he has no more concern about this injury that has sideline him this year," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones on Tuesday morning.
Jones spoke about Romo at length to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday morning, covering a wide range of topics about the injured quarterback. It's been roughly six weeks since Romo broke a vertebrae in his back during the preseason. With the MRI showing positive results, Jones said it's simply a matter of working the veteran quarterback into shape.
"I would remind us the doctors have said, once healed, this injury will have no going forward impact on his ability to play football," Jones said. "It should be as strong or stronger than it was before the injury. What you're into is getting him to get his core, his core and back area back in shape as he's had to do for the last several years."
With all of that min mind, don't expect to see Tony Romo rush out to the practice fields this week while the Cowboys prepare for their Week 6 trip to Green Bay. Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that it was premature to begin thinking about Romo getting practice work, and there's the obvious consideration of the team's looming bye week after the game against the Packers.
In fact, asked about it Tuesday morning, Jones said there wasn't a definitive timetable for when Romo might return to action. Numerous reports have long-cited the Week 8 game against Philadelphia as the most likely return date, but Jones pointed out that the Cowboys' current 4-1 record – as well as the excellent play of Dak Prescott – means there doesn't have to be a rush on any type of decision.
"I think that Dak's success, though, has given us the luxury. No one is happier about this than Tony," Jones said. "But it has given us the luxury to absolutely maximize any thought that we might have of his rehab time and just have the ability to weigh that as we go and pick our spots."
It's a valid point. Compare the Cowboys' current situation to just one year ago, and you can see the obvious difference. In Week 6 last season, this team was 2-3 heading into its bye week, having lost its third-straight in humiliating fashion to New England. After making a quarterback change during the time off, they'd lose another four games before Romo could return and lead them to a win against Miami.
Even should they lose to Green Bay this coming weekend, Prescott has ensured the Cowboys will have a winning record entering their bye week. For that matter, after such a hot start, the rookie quarterback has guaranteed the Cowboys will be part of the division race well into November – which is a far cry from 2015.
"I just have to pinch myself to think about it – we've got Dak Prescott, who's playing at a level that is very capable of winning these games," Jones said. "We've got the future every time he walks out there, we've got the optimism of the future. It's inspiring, it's inspiring this team."
Of course, that very sentiment raises an explosive question that has gnawed around the edges of this team since August. But with Romo's return inching closer, it becomes more prevalent: has Prescott done enough to earn the starting job, even if Romo's healthy?
Jones said on Sunday evening that Romo remains the Cowboys' No. 1 option when he's ready to play. When he was pressed about that on Tuesday, he emphasized the point that there's time to figure things out. The Cowboys currently employ a talented rookie and an experienced veteran – with no immediate need to choose between the two.
"I think that, again, it's the options that we have here that give us the strength. What we do is play this thing out," he said. "We see how we play against Green Bay. Before the game the other day, I was thinking 'Let's see how we play against Cincinnati.' Let's see how we play against Green Bay, let's see how we play against Philadelphia – all the time gaining on it as far as Romo is concerned."
It's likely that Romo won't be ready to play in a football game for several more weeks, and there's no way of knowing what will happen in the meantime. Jones used one of his favorite phrases to describe it, as he said he has a high tolerance for ambiguity.
"We also know that things don't go like you might map them out as we are sitting here this morning," he said. "And so let's factor in things happening with our team, let's factor in things happening in games, let's factor in performance. Let's factor those in. You've got more than one moving part in your equation, so you really don't know."
While he waits for a clearer picture to develop, the Cowboys can only join Jones in his amazement at his situation. A year ago at this time, the quarterback position looked like an insurmountable obstacle – with Romo battling short-term injuries and no long-term option in sight.
Fast forward just 12 months, and the Cowboys are winning games with a 23-year-old phenom, while they wait for their 36-year-old Pro Bowler to return to practice. Whatever tough conversations lie ahead for the franchise, you won't find Jerry Jones complaining about them.
"It's a wonderful problem to have, it's a miracle problem to have in my mind," he said.