IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo might not be taking reps with the Cowboys' first-team offense this offseason, but it's not for lack of trying.
That much was evident on the first day of minicamp, when Romo resorted to some sneaky tactics to try to get in on some seven-on-seven drills. Normally sidelined for what Cowboys coach Jason Garrett calls the "competitive" portions of team practice, Romo switched jerseys with third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie in an effort to get into the action.
That plan was foiled quickly, however, as Garrett noticed the switch and pulled Romo before he could take the snap.
"I don't think he knew at first," Romo said of Garrett. "And then he was like 'No. Nope. Tony, get out of there.' I almost snuck in. I was getting up to the line of scrimmage and almost got in. I feel pretty good, I can go. I was going to take some seven-on-seven reps, but I don't know how much that really helps."
Garrett said he didn't realize what happened until Romo broke the huddle and he realized the quarterback didn't look like Hanie.
"It was pretty obvious the jersey was a little snug on him. That's when I looked at it and said, 'Get him out of the huddle,'" Garrett said. "He's a competitive guy, he wants to play, he wants to be out there. We had the conversation every morning about how many reps he's going to get and the answer is the same: We're going to get through this minicamp."
It seems the expectation is that Romo will be fully available and ready for Day 1 of training camp. Garrett said he plans to take it day-by-day, but he added the team is "confident and optimistic" Romo will be available when the Cowboys report to Oxnard, California, for training camp.
Raiders Practices FinalizedSpeaking of Oxnard, the Cowboys made it official that they'll have some company for part of their stay in California.
The Cowboys announced two joint practices with the Oakland Raiders during training camp this year. The first one will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. The second will be on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 9 a.m.
"We used to have some unbelievable practices with the Raiders way back when. And I have always just felt it's a good way to really spice up training camp," Garrett said. "Sometimes you get into a mode in training camp where you are working against the same guys again and again and again. And you need to kind of freshen the whole atmosphere up."
The two practices will likely be among the final things the Cowboys do during training camp. The team breaks camp on Friday, Aug. 15, and returns to Dallas for its Aug. 16 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Brace YourselfIt's not entirely surprising to see a group of offensive linemen sporting knee braces during practice, but it raised questions when the entirety of the Cowboys' offensive and defensive lines showed up to minicamp with braces on both knees.
The Cowboys' minicamp was the first day for all the team's linemen to practice with their own custom-made set of knee braces. Garrett said the idea is a preventative measure to help against practice injuries. He said the team opted to go through with the idea after plenty of preliminary discussion in the offseason.
"We're going to have them in practice right now and see how guys respond to them. We think it's good. It's a good [embedded_ad]
preventative measure," Garrett said. "Sometimes guys get rolled up on the offensive and defensive line. It happens away from them, a guy falls on them. It's been a long study through the years, it's been going on for 30-plus years, about the value of knee braces."
Asked if the new protocol would carry over to game day, Garrett said the Cowboys would see how it fared in practice and play it by ear. There hasn't been much time for feedback, but he added that the defensive linemen aren't big fans of the idea to this point.
"They don't like to wear them. Players are constantly trying to shed -- smaller pads, smaller this, lighter this," Garrett said. "There's been a big discussion in the league making sure everybody wears their pads. Think about players in the NFL not wearing knee and thigh pads in that kind of competitive contact type situation. This has been going on for years. Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves."