IRVING, Texas – Dan Campbell was a teammate of Tony Romo's the first time he completed an NFL pass – on his first play from scrimmage, a 12-yard completion to fellow rookie Jason Witten in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 2003 preseason opener at Arizona.
By then, Campbell was a four-year veteran who had already made a name for himself in the league as a solid tight end with the Giants where he was teammates with Jason Garrett.
Campbell knew talent when he saw it. And Romo had it.
"What I remember about Romo was knowing from the time he walked in as a pup, a free agent, that there was something about him," Campbell said in a conference call with the Dallas-Fort Worth media. "That's what I remember, and everybody knew it.
"I remember he's in practice, he's running show team two-minute and he's driving them down the field. He just had that savviness about him."
Campbell, now the 39-year-old interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins, must find ways to contain Romo in his return from a fractured collarbone this Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
Twelve years have passed since Romo's rookie season. Campbell and others didn't know then Romo would become one of the league's most effective starting quarterbacks, but there were subtle signs of promise.
"He knows how to play the game," Campbell said. "He's one of the best."