IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys cleaned out their lockers Monday morning following their final team meeting of the season, Tony Romo spoke with the media for the first time since fracturing his left collarbone again on Thanksgiving Day – essentially, the team's deciding setback amid fading playoff hopes – and said he'll return stronger for the 2016 season.
Just in case they managed to rally for the NFC East title, the Cowboys (4-12) didn't place Romo on injured reserve until Christmas Day – days after they were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
"I would have figured out a way, obviously, to get back out there," Romo said of returning for the playoffs if the Cowboys had earned a spot. "That's what we play the game for, playing those games.
"It's disappointing that we're not in that part of it right now. Believe me, we're going to do everything we can to make sure this doesn't happen again."
For Romo, that means getting his collarbone healthy. He fractured it twice in a two-month span during the season – first in the Sept. 13 season opener against the Giants and again on Thanksgiving against the Panthers.
Romo did not have surgery earlier this season or in 2010, the first of three times in his career he has fractured the collarbone. He hasn't had surgery for this most recent fracture, either, though the team will continue to monitor the bone's progress.
"We're going to look at the scan and figure out the strength of the bone," Romo said. "They have incredible things to really almost figure it out exactly as far as how strong it is, what the percentages are. And there are some pretty unique ways – even if we don't get that – there are some other ways you can help.
"I think that'll hopefully ensure it becomes very minimal to likely happen again, and that's encouraging."
Romo appeared in only four games this season, his lowest total since becoming the starter in 2006, and didn't finish two of them due to the pair of collarbone injuries. He completed 83 of 132 passes (68.6 percent) for 884 yards, 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a 79.4 passer rating.
The Cowboys went 1-11 without him in the starting lineup.
In addition to his collarbone healing, Romo said his back has gotten progressively stronger since having surgery at the end of the 2013 season.
"As far as going forward, I'll be a much healthier version going forward actually than I was the last couple of years as my back continues to strengthen and the bone will be healed," he said.