IRVING, Texas – If all goes according to plan, the Cowboys will be welcoming more than just new rookies to their practices this summer.
Tuesday's pre-draft press conference was called with the intention of discussing the approaching NFL draft, but it served as a perfect opportunity for Cowboys brass to address the rehabs and availability of several prominent veterans returning from injury.
There isn't a more important trio of question marks on the Cowboys' roster than Tony Romo, Anthony Spencer and Henry Melton, all of whom are recovering from offseason surgery. Faced by the media for the first time since the offseason program began, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett addressed the health of their three recovering Pro Bowlers.
Not surprisingly, Romo took precedent among those three. At this point, the quarterback is about five months removed from back surgery and recovering well, by all accounts – going as far as throw in team workouts on Tuesday.
"He's built up from not being able to do much, to walking around, to doing cardio, to being out on the field," Garrett said. "We had our first on-the-field session today, we're in Phase 2 of our offseason program, our teaching sessions. He was on the field for 45 minutes with the other guys – he threw the ball, he dropped back."
The Cowboys' quarterback prospects have been the subject of plenty of speculation since Romo missed the Cowboys' season finale at the end of December – especially with the looming possibility of drafting a replacement. It's not a concern either Garrett or Jones seemed to share, though.
"We feel good about Tony's health, first-hand, medically. His back is everything that we want it to be at this time," Jones said. "So we feel very strongly about the edge that our quarterback gives us, and it's a great place to be."
Romo wasn't the only one who returned to the playing field Tuesday for teaching sessions, as Garrett also shared some positive news for Melton's recovery. It's been roughly seven months since Melton tore his ACL playing for the Bears, and about six weeks since he signed with Dallas with the goal of being ready for training camp. [embedded_ad]
"Melton is doing a really good job," Garrett said. "He's worked very hard, he spends a lot of time here, and he's really committed to getting himself back and going."
Early reports don't do anything to temper that expectation, as Garrett said Melton also took the field Tuesday – though not at full capacity.
"He was out on the field today – again, we were out on the field for the first time with our players. He was not 100 percent, but he was doing a lot of good things – moving around, getting involved in some of the drills, making some progress," Garrett said. "We'll see how he responds to that work, but we've been really pleased with his progress."
The prognosis on Spencer isn't as clear-cut, which is to be expected. It's only been 10 days since Spencer re-signed in Dallas after microfracture knee surgery. The Pro Bowl defensive end has been at Valley Ranch for his rehab, though – which the Cowboys hope leads to the fastest possible recovery.
"I thought it was a really important signing for us, to get him back into the fold," Garrett said. "I think being in Valley Ranch here every day gives him the best chance to be successful in his recovery, to play effectively for us this year."