IRVING, Texas – It's hard to quantify whether Tony Romo is putting in Peyton Manning-type time at Valley Ranch this season, but he's certainly dealing with plenty of Peyton Manning talk this week.
With one of the game's great quarterbacks playing the Cowboys this week, it goes without saying that Romo would field plenty of questions about Manning – especially given the prolific start the Broncos quarterback is off to this year.
"I think it goes without saying. He's been a great football player his whole career," Romo said. "Right now he's playing at a very high level -- week in and week out -- that provides a great test for anybody that goes against him."
Manning's presence at AT&T Stadium has dominated the pregame storylines, mainly because of his 1,470 and 16 touchdowns with no interceptions through for games – an incredible start, even by his standards.
"He's playing quarterback at maybe the highest level it's ever been played," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett earlier this week.
There are also the comparisons in preparation time, which Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones invited on his franchise quarterback when he said he Romo would spend "Peyton Manning-type time" on game planning.
Manning dismissed the comparison Wednesday, saying it was an issue better discussed by Jones. But Romo was never going to get away so easy.
"You can go and talk to Jerry and ask him what he meant exactly, but when we communicated all the different times and stuff, it was just about having played the position for an extended period of time as a quarterback in the National Football League," Romo said. "You just learn through experiences and you understand what things can help a football team and what are more difficult."
That falls in line with what Romo and Garrett have said all year – even before the Broncos were the next team on the schedule. On Monday, Garrett repeated that he was as quarterback as happy with the gameplan as possible.
"You want quarterback to be invested in what you are doing," Garrett said. "You want him to like the plays that are in the plan. You want him to like the plays you are calling into his helmet so he can go play his best football."
Romo was never going to get into specifics about the Cowboys' gameplan for the Denver defense. But asked about the difference in his workload on Mondays and Tuesdays, he said it comes down to more than just game film.
"You're always watching a lot of tape – I don't think that changes," Romo said. "The difference is just some of the ideas and things that are put into the base plan, and each day it goes from there."
It's something Romo said he might not have handled as a younger quarterback.
"When you're young you just don't – you haven't experienced it or seen enough to understand exactly what people are trying to do, philosophy-wise, against you," he said.
With or without specifics from Romo, all eyes will be on his role in derailing the Denver freight train moreso than the Cowboys defense. Both Garrett and Romo acknowledged that Manning and his offense would have their fair share of success on Sunday.
Romo has been incredibly efficient in 2013, with a 105.1 quarterback rating and just one interception this season. Some of that can be attributed to DeMarco Murray's 356 rushing yards through four games, but it also raises questions about the Cowboys' ability to push the ball downfield to targets like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten – a notion Romo disagreed with.
"Since you're 12 years old, there's a coverage and there's places to throw the football – you take that," he said. "Kansas City wanted to get up and play single-high coverage and press man, and the ball went to Dez five times down the field. One got dropped, and another got called for a penalty – that might change the balance of certain things, too. In some of the other games, they just dared us to run – so we ran."
The Cowboys have had more success running against some than other, but the stats hold true across the board. Through four games Romo has just three completions of more than 25 yards – two against Kansas City and one against San Diego. He said that stat doesn't come from fear of turnovers, however, but reading the defense.
"For me, I'm just what play gets called and taking it through the progression," he said. "Believe me, if there's shots down the field, I've never been accused of not taking them."