IRVING, Texas – The waiting game continues as the Cowboys go through the start of Organized Team Activities without Kyle Orton.
The backup quarterback was absent during the first practice of OTAs, but head coach Jason Garrett isn't pushing the panic button and mentioned another player who once considered to hang up the cleats before reconsidering.
"We had a situation a couple of years ago with Cole Beasley – you guys remember, in training camp, he came into my office and said, 'I don't want to play anymore,'" Garrett said. "We talked it through, had a conversation and laid out some parameters and tried to help him through that situation, because the track record of Cole Beasley in a short period of time spoke to us and spoke for itself.
"Sometimes things happen in someone's life and they get off line a little bit and sometimes you've got to help them get back on line. We did that with (Beasley), and a couple days later he comes back and he's really done a good job for us since then. You take each situation individually and understand what the circumstances are and try to make your best decisions – for the football team, first and foremost, but for the player as well."
The obvious difference between the two players is one was an undrafted longshot and the other's a veteran quarterback reaching the tail end of his career. Garrett wouldn't get into the specifics with Orton's absence when asked if he's concerned about trusting players who aren't sure if they want to play, other than saying all situations are different.
As Garrett said, it's always good for players to be in attendance at practice. But that's especially the case for the backup quarterback when the starter's coming off back surgery.
"When guys aren't here, those are missed opportunities," Garrett said. "Kyle's a smart football player. He's played for a long time in this league. I think he understands our system of football. He's more able to handle not being here than maybe some are. Having said that, we want all our football players here practicing with their teammates and trying to get better."
The missed practices and Romo's limited reps mean more chances for backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, as well as Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan.
"A big theme for us when we talk to our players is to just take advantage of the reps that you get," Garrett said. "Everybody's going to have an opportunity to get out there and show us what they can and can't do. At the end of the day, a good mindset for a player to have is, 'If I get a hundred reps, a hundred plays, how did I do in those hundred plays?' If it's two plays, 'How did I do in those two plays?' That's really what we emphasize to our guys, because they're going to be evaluated on the work that we give them.
"I think it is good that Brandon is getting some work with the ones. We'll see how he responds to that. He's started a lot of games over the last couple years at this level. We see him – because of his baseball background – as a developmental guy. He has some experience here. We were excited to get him and have him on our roster. It's good for him to get some of the work he's getting."