IRVING, Texas – Kyle Orton's absence during minicamp may have been expected, but it was still unfortunate in the eyes of Jason Witten and other teammates.
Witten said he was disappointed Orton didn't attend the mandatory minicamp last week, despite his belief in Brandon Weeden and his optimism in Tony Romo's progress.
"We all understand it's a business, but obviously we value him on our team," Witten said. "You look at last year, there's no greater example of what he meant to us. We're going into Week 17 and he has to start that game. Hopefully he can work through that and he can come to camp and be a big part of this team, because obviously if Tony goes down, Weeden's done a great job, but Orton's had a lot of success in this league."
Weeden's taken the majority of first-team snaps this offseason as Romo continues his rehab after back surgery. If Orton doesn't return, Weeden will enter the season as the likely No. 2 quarterback.
"We haven't put on pads, so I hate to go too far, but he's done a great job," Witten said. "He's embraced this opportunity. I think he's learned a lot from Tony, and he's gotten a lot of reps, 10, 11 practices now with the ones. I thought he's done a great job."
Witten said it'll be exciting to get Romo back in there, but he said Weeden's done a fantastic job and came into this season with a new team hungry to prove that he belongs.
If all goes to plan, though, it'll be Romo taking the majority of first-team reps once again when the group reconvenes for training camp. After taking part in individual drills during minicamp, Romo should be able to work into the team drills in a month.
"I think he looks good," Witten said. "When you know somebody so well, you would know if something wasn't right. If you watch those walk-throughs, he's throwing the ball really well and connecting with us. I think he's hungry and excited to get back out there. It looks like he's healed up and anxious to get to the season."