IRVING, Texas – No one has to be reminded of Tony Romo's performance on a short week a season ago on Thanksgiving.
After taking Wednesdays off each week to get his back and body prepared for Sundays, Romo certainly wasn't himself last year against the Eagles, losing to the division rivals 33-10 in a game in which he finished with a 53.7 passer rating, thanks to two interceptions.
So while this once again is a short week for the Cowboys quarterback, Romo said his preparation won't be the same this time around.
"I think last year was experimental in a lot of ways at different times," said Romo, who was managing his rehab from back surgery each week. "We had to figure that out. We hadn't had a short week throughout the rest of the year. In some ways, just some of the decisions I made were not conducive to me being ready in that short a period of time. It happened. You learn. You move on. I think I'll be better this year because of it."
In fact, being out for the last seven games has allowed him to at least get a head start on Carolina, along with Miami.
"When I was off, I checked out both teams for a little bit and just had some notes and some things that I did to kind of give me a little bit of a head start," Romo said of the Panthers and Dolphins. "Now I go back and refresh with some of the stuff I did earlier to kind of hopefully give me a little bit of a head start."
Romo said this week is a little more physical than mental for him, considering the quick turnaround. Since he hasn't been hit since late-September, Romo sounded encouraged with the way he felt Tuesday, just two days before kickoff with the Panthers.
"Yeah, it's the good kind of sore, I think," said Romo, who was sacked twice. "When you come home after a game, a physical game on top of it, it feels like you played football a little bit, and you just have to do a lot of the little things to get yourself back ready for a Thursday game. We've taken that approach, and it's gone good so far."
As for those "little things," Romo wasn't specific in what he's doing differently, but he did say the toughest part of the week is trying to cram six days into three in terms of preparation.
"I think you more or less try to condense it all, and I don't think you skip anything or add a whole bunch of stuff," Romo said. "You just try to do maybe more of it in a single day. There's just a lot of little things that I would normally do in a week's routine and you're just doing sometimes a couple of things per day. And being the first week back, you've obviously got to get your body back feeling good in a short turnaround. That's at least half the battle. And then the mental side of it, trying to catch up with the plays and understanding what they're doing, how to attack them and where they're vulnerable, and my thought process in those moments and all that."
The extra time to prepare for the Panthers let Romo know one clear thing about Carolina's defense:
Romo smiled and pointed out the Panthers' balance on defense makes them a tough team to prepare for.
"They do a little bit of everything," he said. "They pressure. Sometimes they just do it with the front four. Sometimes they come after it. I've seen multiple corner blitzes. My job is to kind of figure them out as the week goes on, what they're trying to teach their players and what's their defensive philosophy and rules. I'm still doing that right now, but I think what you find is that they're coached well, they play hard and they're physically just talented. That's a rare combination, so it'll be a great test for us this week."
But while the competition stands to be better, facing an undefeated Carolina team, Romo also expects to be a little better himself.
"It's going to get better each time I play, every quarter I play," Romo said. "I think just the more you play football, usually the better you get at football."