PHILADELPHIA – "Next man up" was the Cowboys' rallying cry last week with wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot surgery) and defensive end Randy Gregory (high ankle sprain) injured.
Expect to hear it plenty again this week as quarterback Brandon Weeden replaces Tony Romo (broken clavicle) in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
"I've got to be ready," Weeden said following Sunday's 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. "Whether it's a stubbed toe or an injury like that, you've got to be ready at all times."
For the second straight regular season, Weeden has taken first-team practice reps on Wednesdays while Romo has rested his surgically-repaired back, a routine that has helped Romo stay fresh during the week.
With Romo breaking his left clavicle in the third quarter against the Eagles – an injury that will sideline him for an undetermined period of time – Weeden is now expected to take first-team reps on Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Fridays as the replacement starter.
The Cowboys will ask him to lead an offense that is missing its biggest receiving threat, Bryant, for the next few weeks and also functioned without starting left guard Ronald Leary (strained groin) Sunday.
Weeden was a perfect 7-of-7 for 73 yards in four true possessions, including a 42-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams to put the Cowboys ahead 20-3 with 4:13 remaining.
"It's a tough situation. I hate it for Tony," Weeden said. "He works his tail off. He's got a really good support team around him and he was obviously excited about what we had going here. It's a tough situation to come into the game like that, but that's my role on this team."
Last year, Weeden played well relieving an injured Romo on two scoring drives in an overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. The following week in his lone 2014 start, he threw one touchdown and two interceptions in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Weeden says more first-team practice work has helped him continue to develop a rapport with the starting offense.
"I think more than anything, just the communication in the huddle," he said. "Those guys have heard me call plays. Now it's just getting back to square one and trying to pick up where Tony left off.
"He's essentially another coach on the field. He gets guys lined up, does all the right things, extremely savvy, smart and in my opinion a very, very elite quarterback. When injuries happen like this, unfortunately it happens. It's the nature of this business."
In other words, it's next man up. Again.
"Tony creates so much and there's not many guys in the NFL that can do what he does when the ball gets in his hands," tight end Jason Witten said. "But we have a lot of confidence in our football team."