Stephen: Team Looking To Win, Not Simply Hold On, Without Injured Stars

IRVING, Texas – The injury-depleted Cowboys know they have help coming soon and more help on the way later in the season.

Coming off their first loss of the young season, though, the team isn't simply trying to hold on until quarterback Tony Romo (fractured collarbone), wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot surgery) and other key players get healthy over the next few weeks.

The expectation hasn't changed during this stretch. They still expect to compete and win games.

"We've got to go play our asses off," Jones said Wednesday. "You can't hold onto anything. We're going to play with what we have and we're going to play as hard as we can play."

Head coach Jason Garrett has preached the same 'next man up' message since the team lost Bryant and Romo in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, and has endured injuries to left guard Ronald Leary (groin) and defensive ends Randy Gregory (high ankle sprain) and Jeremy Mincey (concussion).

Leary returned to full practice participation on Wednesday. Mincey was not listed as a participant but has said he's improving. Defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain are eligible to return from their four-game NFL suspensions next week, after the Cowboys play Sunday night at New Orleans.

The earliest Romo can return is Nov. 22 at Miami after he spends a required eight weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list. The Cowboys opted not to place Bryant on that list before Romo got hurt, which means they're optimistic the All-Pro receiver could miss fewer than eight weeks.

No one is feeling sorry for the Cowboys, Jones said, because every team has injuries.

"We've got to go out there and play hard," Jones said. "There's a lot of guys who don't have franchise quarterbacks out there that win games. There's different ways to win a game."

Jones reiterated confidence in Romo's replacement, Brandon Weeden, who completed 22 of 26 passes for 232 yards and threw one interception in last Sunday's 39-28 loss to Atlanta.

"I think we can win football games with the team we have," Jones said, "and we're going to get better."

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