What's Behind Door No. 2?

game, is that he flawlessly took two snaps from center in the 33-10 victory over Philadelphia, and with expert precision, dropped to one knee each time, saddling himself with an NFL career rushing total of minus-two yards. 

Yep, they must know something we don't. 

Now, can tell you this: There are a couple of NFL people out there convinced Romo can play. One even suggests maybe Bledsoe should be looking over his shoulder. This year! Now that might be a leap of faith since Bledsoe was pretty good last year, throwing for the second most yards (3,639) in club history, and despite taking 49 sacks - second most in a single season for the Cowboys to only Don Meredith's 58 in 1964 - finished with 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a QB rating of 83.7. 

And to think he had 14 touchdown passes vs. seven interceptions, just 23 sacks and a 94.4 QB rating in the first 10 games until the Cowboys' line deteriorated, leading to four losses in the final six games. 

Now for his part, when Parcells was asked when he thought Romo would be ready to play, his response was, well, rather non-committal, and would have to be interpreted as less than enthusiastic. 

"I've very hopeful that comes along relatively soon," said Parcells, obviously knowing Romo is entering the final year of the two-year contract he signed last off-season. 

Like this year, coach? 

"I'm hoping he shows enough to be confident to play him," Parcells said. "We'll see. I'm very hopeful of that." 

Now Parcells would quickly cover his tracks, not wanting to give the impression he thinks Romo is ready to challenge Bledsoe for the starting job, or anything like that, by then saying, "I'm not declaring anything here, I'm just saying I'm hoping he's at that point we can put him in a game and play him." 

To me, and probably you, too, not exactly a ringing endorsement Romo could be the guy to start the final 10 games of the season without the Cowboys blinking if Bledsoe should go down. 

And if you're thinking Parcells believes he has a now-seasoned Henson in his back pocket since he was able to start nine of 10 NFL Europe games this spring, think again. Because when asked about Henson's development with the Rhein Fire, Parcells kind of first hemmed and hawed, then saying he was "hoping for a little more." 

Yet, the Cowboys stubbornly remain committed to developing a young quarterback from within, and even owner Jerry Jones, when addressing this very issue, knowing he has no experience at backup quarterback, maintains the quarterback of the future might very well come from within. 

That means he's banking on either Romo or Henson. 

They indeed must know something we don't, or haven't seen. They're the experts. 

And you get the idea Parcells has a plan for developing Romo, and it's much closer to the one used to bring Billy Volek along in Tennessee or the one used to develop Jake Delhomme than the one the Cowboys used to groom Troy Aikman. 

Listen up. 

"I think, retrospectively, and I'm not sure he'd tell you this, but I think he might, this experience of the way he's kind of gone into the league was really in his own best self-interest," Parcells says of Romo. "I think had he been kind of thrown to the wolves so to speak, he probably would have been looked upon on a little bit differently than he is now." 

He means, that Romo, undrafted out of Division I-AA Eastern Illinois, would have been in so far over his head early in his career that he could have been destroyed had he played before he was ready. 

"So we'll see," Parcells continued. "I hope to play him quite a bit during preseason and see how it goes. I hope that Tony does a good enough job during preseason that we'd be comfortable enough playing him." 

So does that mean you were not comfortable enough last season to even play him in that 35-7 debacle in Washington when all was definitely lost heading into the fourth quarter? 

"I am one of those guys who believes in letting the guys go down with the ship," said Parcells, intimating comfort had nothing to do with his decision. "Just me. Other people have other ideas." 

You can bet on that, a lot of other ideas. 

Even on this. Sign

MICK SHOTS

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