IRVING, Texas** - When Tony Romo takes the field Sunday afternoon in the season opener against the 49ers, there will be plenty of eyeballs glued to No. 9 and particularly his back. More than anything, there will be thousands of followers wondering if his offseason back injury will allow him to be the "Tony Romo of old."
From Romo's standpoint, he's not expecting that.
"I'll be better," Romo said Wednesday when asked if he expects to be the same quarterback he's been over the last seven seasons. "Honestly, with what I've been able to do here over the last year and a half, in some other areas, I think I've really benefitted. I think you'll see that moving forward over the rest of my career."
Since he became the starting quarterback in 2006, Romo has always said he uses the offseason to try and improve his game, whether it be with his mechanics or footwork or how he reads defenses. And while he never really reveals his focal point of improvement each year, it's clear Romo is excited about some of the changes in his game. A lot of that stems from his offseason work – both on the field and in the film room with new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan.
"I think you'll see a very sharp – a lot of it will be similar mannerisms, reactionary, and the things you see fundamentally," Romo said. "You'll probably miss a lot of subtle things that I think will separate me from what I was in the past. I'm kind of excited about actually showing it."
And until Romo shows it, which he hopes happens early and often Sunday against the 49ers at AT&T Stadium, the veteran quarterback understands that his critics and even fans will be unsure about him making a full recovery. [embedded_ad]
"I think you should be. That's part of it – anyone coming back from surgery," Romo said. "It's a part of learning to not only get back to where you're at, but to see if you can get better. The great thing, I'm doing things at a level that I'm excited about."
The last time Romo faced the 49ers, it was the other part of his midsection that took a beating. In the 2011 matchup in San Francisco, Romo left the game because of cracked ribs and it was later revealed he had a punctured lung. Romo was able to return and rally the Cowboys to an overtime win.
"When I think of that game I cringe," Romo said, referring to the ribs injury. "But this will be a great challenge once again for us. The 49ers are a really good team. They're going to be very physical. They've got great players. They're at the top of the profession. It'll provide us with some great insight into what type of ball club we're going to be."