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Mid-Day Report: Romo Likely To Start Saturday

What's The Scoop:
Unless Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells changes his mind over the next 24 hours, backup quarterback Tony Romo will get the start in Saturday's preseason opener in Seattle.

Parcells has been saying Romo would "play a lot" in the 7 p.m. (PDT) start at Qwest Field, but has been hesitant to commit to what has seemed to be the obvious: That he would start the game.

But on Thursday here at the River Ridge Complex before the Cowboys conducted their only practice of the day, when asked one more time if it would be safe to say Romo is his starter against the Seahawks, Parcells said, "There would be a pretty good chance that would happen."

The Cowboys appear to be dead set on forming a lasting opinion of Romo this year, and since he's only taken two NFL snaps in his three seasons, kneeling on both to kill the clock against Philadelphia last year, the Cowboys must make a determination if he's worth keeping after this season when his contract expires. In fact, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones even raised the possibility of signing Romo to an extension.

But the Cowboys must formulate a solid opinion of him, and apparently that will start this summer, and more specifically Saturday night in Seattle.

"I'm trying to do something at the quarterback position that needs to be done," Parcells said when asked about not giving veteran starter Drew Bledsoe the start in the first of four preseason games. "It's not like Bledsoe needs to play a quarter to get ready for the season.

"I need to find out what (Romo) can do . . . this is going to be an opportunity to show me what he can do."

Parcells cautioned, though, this will not be Romo's only opportunity, and has said he's hopeful that if needed, Romo will be able to perform adequately in a regular-season game.

"I certainly don't want to put Romo in a situation where Saturday night in Seattle is his defining moment," Parcells said of his fourth year quarterback who entered the league in 2003 as a free-agent rookie out of Eastern Illinois. "I don't think this week - I just want to get him in the game, run the team and see how he looks."

Chances are, he's not alone.

Quick Shots:

  • While cornerback Terence Newman has been bothered by a slightly sprained left ankle, he continues to elbow his way into some drills, including jumping in at cornerback with the third team defense. Parcells said he expects Newman to be ready to play on Saturday.
  • The Cowboys spent a portion of their second practice Wednesday working on a no-huddle offense, during which rookie receiver Sam Hurd, working with the first team, made a great diving catch on a crossing pattern.
  • Evidently Bill Parcells is tired of barking at his quarterbacks to "get rid of it," meaning throwing the ball while in the pocket, so he has brought in this sounding device which goes off 2.5 seconds after the snap to give his quarterbacks a better idea when they've run out of time.
  • Couldn't help but laughing today coming back from breakfast when here came running back Marion Barber walking through the hotel lobby to a meeting carrying his football, mandated by Parcells to remind his second-year running back to "bring the ball with him" when he's carrying it on the field. He's had a few fumble problems early in camp. And evidently, as Parcells said, "He's going to have to carry it for a while."
  • Parcells became irritated during the second practice when his second-team defense was disorganized before the first snap, the head coach threw the defense off the field, making them run to the far fence across the other practice field. Bet the first-team defense wasn't happy, because it was forced to return to the field.
  • The Cowboys continue to toy with the idea of moving safety Roy Williams into a linebacker role on the nickel defense. With Williams closer to the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys had fifth-round draft choice Pat Watkins and veteran Marcus Coleman at safety.

You Should've Seen:
Inside linebacker Bradie James running some 20 yards down field to break up a deep pass from Tony Romo intended for J.R. Tolver. Two years ago James lost his chance to grab more playing time away from Dexter Coakley because his inability to cover. There certainly was nothing wrong with his cover ability and range Wednesday evening.

Who's Hot:
Third running back Tyson Thompson continues to intrigue the coaching staff, and don't be surprised if he's not working behind the first-team offensive line early in Saturday's preseason game against Seattle. Thompson has serious home-run ability and can be an explosive kick-off returner. Parcells definitely has a role in mind for the second-year back from Irving, Texas, if he can prove his worth. Thompson also has been working with the first-team kick-off return unit alongside rookie Abram Elam.

Who's Not:
First-year safety Justin Beriault hasn't practiced in more than a week, presumably because of the concussion he suffered in practice July 31. But apparently the Cowboys are very worried about his surgically-repaired knee which was starting to bother him, and there seems to be a distinct possibility his days with the team are numbered. Parcells said doctors will do a few more tests over the next few days and that a final decision on his status won't be made until next week.

Injury Update:
CB Terence Newman, slightly sprained left ankle (8/8)
LB Rocky Boiman, fractured right thumb (8/7), surgery (8/8)
WR Terrell Owens, sore hamstring (8/3)
S Justin Beriault, mild concussion (7/31)
DE Marcus Spears, knee (meniscus) - had knee scoped (7/30)

Missed Practice:
LB Rocky Boiman (thumb)
WR Terrell Owens (hamstring)
S Justin Beriault (concussion)
DE Marcus Spears (knee surgery)

Returned to Practice:
CB Terence Newman, limited (8/9)

WR LaShaun Ward, signed (8/9)
TE Erik Jensen, signed (8/9)
QB Matt Baker, signed (8/6)
LB Kai Parham, released (8/6)
QB Jeff Mroz, released (8/6)
DE Vontrell Jamison, released (8/2)
DE Jason Davis, signed (8/1)
LB J.J. Horne, released (7/31)
WR Ahmad Merritt, released (7/31)
CB Byron Parker, released (7/31)
TE Brett Pierce, placed on injured reserve (7/31)
T Flozell Adams moved from PUP to active roster (7/30)
LB Bobby Carpenter, signed (7/29)
T E.J. Whitley, placed on injured reserve (7/29)
T Flozell Adams, placed on active PUP (7/28)
S Darrell Brooks, released (7/28)
G Shannon Snell, released (7/28)

Top BILL-ing:
"Once in a while he still goes off the reservation." - Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells when asked if Bledsoe has eliminated the impulse throws which haunted him early in his career.

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