IRVING, Texas – You'd think Brandon Weeden was the Cowboys' starting quarterback judging by the media scrum around his locker on Monday.
Technically, he is.
As the second week of Organized Team Activities began, Tony Romo remained on his same throwing regimen as last week. Which is to say, the Pro Bowler threw during the pre-practice walkthrough and individual drills, but he sat down for the competitive, full-team portion of practice.
"We want our players to practice, but we also have to understand the situation they're in," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "Injuries provide opportunity. Tony is getting some work in, but it also provides an opportunity for those other guys to get some work."
With Romo sitting and backup Kyle Orton missing from the voluntary workouts, it leaves Weeden as the top quarterback on the depth chart for the full-team work, followed by Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan. It's an opportunity Weeden said he has to take advantage of while he can.
"The main thing is when I'm getting these reps, I've got to take advantage of each snap – run play, pass play, doesn't matter," he said. "Take advantage of each snap and learn from it – if you make a mistake, learn from it."
Aside from Romo's recovery, speculation about Orton's future continues to build as the Cowboys draw closer to mandatory team minicamp on June 17. If Orton does decide to retire, Weeden said it's on him to prove himself capable of the backup role.
"First and foremost, you have to gain the confidence of the guys in the huddle and obviously the coaching staff – that if they put me out there on Sunday, we don't go backward, we continue to do what we do," he said.
Luckily for the former Browns starter, it's not like Romo disappears from practice when the team portion begins. The starter can be seen working with coaches and quarterbacks during the tail end of practice, and Weeden said he's been taking advantage of that resource – often, apparently. [embedded_ad]
"Tony's been doing this for a long time, so I've just been picking away at him with questions," Weeden said. "I'm sure he thinks I'm getting on his nerves. I'm just trying to get a feel for what he thinks, why he does certain things." The early work appears to be paying off, as Weeden said he's settling into the offense. Part of that may be the remnants of a collection connection, though. Dez Bryant, Weeden's old teammate at Oklahoma State, said he's been impressed during OTAs.
"He's been doing an outstanding job since he got here, and in my honest opinion I felt like he was doing some great things in Cleveland," Bryant said. "He's always been a player that also loves the game as well, and he wants to be out there and perform at a high level."
That doesn't diminish Romo's importance to the offense, however. Much like Weeden, Bryant added that Romo's limited availability makes it all the more crucial to work with him when he is practicing.
"Of course, we have to, because it makes a huge difference. He's our star quarterback, and we'd love to see him out on the field with us, but we understand the situation," he said. "But when he's there, we've got to pick at him – we have to."