LONDON – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones doesn't just think Tony Romo will play on Sunday, he's apparently got the future mapped out for his franchise quarterback.
Jones spoke to reporters Thursday at the Cowboys' temporary practice facility at Allianz Park about a variety of topics. Naturally, with Romo returning to practice for the first time in 10 days, Jones was asked about his quarterback's chances of playing against Jacksonville.
"I'm anticipating him playing, have no reason to think that he won't and this will be a nice little practice session for him out there today," Jones said. "But my expectations are for him to play."
That prediction for this weekend is one thing, but Jones also elaborated on Romo's availability for quite a longer period of time. Asked how Romo made the players around him better, Jones offered a glimpse of his longterm future for his quarterback.
"I think Tony Romo has at least five years," Jones said. "I'm planning on him having at least five years of playing at a level that would allow us to be possible contenders from that position, and maybe not doing some things that he had earlier as well or maybe with the energy or the efficiency he has, but maybe doing other things better."
That's actually not far off from a prediction Romo made for himself. Speaking exclusively to 105.3 The Fan all the way back in May, the 34-year-old made a bold prediction for his upcoming season and the remainder of his career.
"There's no question in my mind, not only am I going to be able to make it through 16 games, I'll make it through another five years," he said at the time.
He followed that up at training camp this past July with another bold proclamation – this one about his development since he took the Cowboys' starting job in 2006.
"I think over the course of the next four or five years, you'll see the best version of me that I've had throughout my career," he said.
It's a bit ironic, then, that this conversation would strike up again on the day Romo returned to practice from a back injury – his third back-related injury since the spring of 2013. Despite that, Jones insisted that it is realistic to have such a long timetable for his career.
"I think it is. I'm aware of his back. Only God knows what is in store for his back," Jones said. "I've seen backs out there that you wouldn't believe how they look on the MRIs and how they look on X-rays. Those never impacted careers at all and players."
Jones' reasoning was that despite the separate injuries, the fact that none of them are related doesn't give cause for chronic concern.
As for Romo, who is fighting to get healthy enough to play this weekend, all he could do was laugh.
[embeddedad0]"Right around there," he said when asked about Jones' five-year comments.
If Romo is looking for any career options once his playing days do end, Jones was also glad to help in that regard.
"He has aspirations at least certainly at this time, and he has said it to me, of eventually being an offensive coordinator in the NFL when he grows up," Jones said. "Seriously, in the future he has that kind of interest."
Told about that comment, once again, all Romo could do was laugh.
"I'm glad," he said. "I need some fatherly advice."