OXNARD, Calif. – For the first time in two years, quarterback Tony Romo says he will practice for a fourth straight training camp day Tuesday – another sign that his surgically-repaired back is as strong as it's been in some time.
Last year in his return from a discectomy, Romo did not practice more than two straight training camp days as the Cowboys took a measured approach toward the regular season.
"I had a good little rest period there when we were getting ready for San Diego (last week), not having to throw as much during that period," he said.
"If you do things the right way, you do your rehab and you work your butt off and strengthen all the areas around it, you can go for extended periods of time if you have time off leading off to that, which we had. I'll be out there today playing against them (the Rams). It feels good and it feels good to be able to do what we did yesterday and come back out today and hopefully do even better."
After resting in the preseason opener against the Chargers, it's uncertain how much work Romo will get Sunday at San Francisco. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (biceps) and receiver Dez Bryant (hamstring) are not expected to play, and starting offensive linemen Ronald Leary (back) and Doug Free (foot) have recently missed time or practiced on a limited basis.
But a second practice against the Rams here in Oxnard offers a new competitive situation for Romo and the first-team offense.
"This offseason has been different (for Romo), head coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a full participant in our offseason program, he practiced virtually every day in the OTAs and minicamp. He's in a different place right now than he was the last couple years."
- Byron Jones will be held out of practice for the next few days while he deals with the shoulder injury he suffered Sunday afternoon. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday that Jones will have a second opinion on the problem, but Garrett wouldn't speculate as to where or how that opinion will be attained. Jones participated in the Tuesday morning walkthrough, and the problem isn't thought to be serious.
- Gavin Escobar left practice Monday with a head injury, according to Garrett. The third-year tight end attended meetings Tuesday morning walkthrough, but Garrett said he won't participate in the afternoon practice against St. Louis. Escobar will undergo the same protocol for head injuries as he would for a game week, according to Garrett.
- Cole Beasley can also expect to be limited Tuesday, as he nurses a sore Achilles. Like Escobar, he attended the morning walkthrough, but the Cowboys will be cautious with him.
- The lack of depth on the lines has prompted the Cowboys to cut some elements of their practices shorter. Linemen like Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Doug Free, Nick Hayden and Terrell McClain are nursing various ailments, which has affected some of the practice plan. "We've cut a lot of stuff short," Garrett said. "We had 12-play sets, they became 10-play sets. The last period that we do with the threes became a six-play set. We shortened periods down. It was still a healthy practice – we got a lot of work in. But you're always optimistic, you lay them out – 'This is the most we want to do,' and then you dial them back."