OXNARD, Calif. – The most-discussed man in the Cowboys organization is typically one of the quietest these days.
But following the first true practice of the 2013 season, Tony Romo was bound to break the silence – at least for a little while. Romo spoke to reporters Sunday evening following the Cowboys' first day of training camp, fielding questions as far-ranging as his health to his involvement in the team's play-calling.
"I feel good. I've been throwing, I've been running, I've been doing all that stuff," Romo said. "I was excited about getting out here – honestly, just the smell of the grass and being out on the football field is a great feeling. You never want to take that for granted."
Romo went through a full walkthrough and a two hour practice on Sunday in his first team activities since undergoing a micro procedure to remove a non-cancerous cyst in mid-April. The quarterback was present throughout the Cowboys' offseason OTAs and minicamp, but was unable to participate until the start of training camp.
"You gain a great appreciation just watching and not being able to be out there with your teammates and go through the grind. So it was great today. It was a great start," he said.
During the wait for training camp, Romo said he got the all-clear to begin throwing and working out "about a month and a half ago." That includes running and throwing workouts, as well as the week-long mountain running excursion Romo took this summer, which team owner/general manager Jerry Jones alluded to last week.
"Sometimes I was a little too aggressive with the aspect of wanting to be aggressive to get back fast," he said. "That's always the frustrating part of any injury that creeps up, but it was good. I threw a lot, and I was prepared coming into today."
Romo still may be playing catch up compared to a typical offseason of conditioning, simply due to the circumstances. But with nearly two months still to work before the regular season starts, he added he feels proud of his progress through the summer.
"I don't know that you can ever duplicate six months of working and getting ready in a month and a half," Romo said. "Saying that, I'm definitely as far along as I possibly could be at this point. I've done everything and exhausted everything that I could to get in this position."
Be that as it may, it won't keep the eyes off of Romo's progress during camp. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used the term "pitch count" Saturday when discussing the team's monitoring of Romo's recovery. Romo likened it to a sprained ankle, adding that things should work out given enough time and caution.
"It's probably just soreness, is the thing. You're just going to do as if you were coming back from anything, and you're all of a sudden going to attack it competitively at 100 percent," he said. "I'll monitor it – I monitored it during individuals today, and I came out of here good. As long as everything keeps flowing, we'll be fine."
With his health in good order, Romo was freed up to address plenty of familiar talking points -- namely, his return to the Cowboys' offense, which he will famously have a larger say in starting this month.
Like others before him, Romo was quick to stress the team effort involved between players and coaches in offensive game-planning. He twice made the point that increased presence in the game plan tends to come with experience in the league.
"As you get older you gain that through experience anyway. I think, in some aspects, I believe in certain things that can help our football team," he said. "I expressed that to Jason and our coaches, and we're going to implement that and do some things. I think that's going to help us."
That experience is something Romo has developed plenty of in Oxnard, not to mention stadiums across the league. Faced with dozens of television cameras and throngs of autograph-seeking fans, the newly-extended face of the Cowboys was asked to reflect on his time as a fringe player on the Dallas roster.
"I definitely can remember those times – it still feels like not too long ago. For me, I tell this to some buddies and high school kids a lot of the time: it's all relative toward the way you look at it," he said. "They'll be like 'Wow, you play in the NFL.' But the same feeling I get going out on Sunday is the same feeling a high school kid gets going out on Friday night."
Romo's spot on the 53-man roster is obviously secured this go-around. He won't turn any heads by taking the starting job. But as he gears up for his seventh training camp as the Cowboys' starting quarterback, he said the feeling never changes – only the circumstance. [embedded_ad]
"To me that aspect doesn't change no matter where you're at. Sometimes your surroundings change a little bit. The desperate feeling of trying to make the team – that doesn't change now, it's just a different goal," he said. "Now it's not trying to make the team, now it's trying to win a championship. Now it's trying to get better so we can take the next step … it's still that desperate kind of act of wanting to take that next step – there's just another step. And it's going to be the same thing even after we get that job done."