Tony Romo laughed at the notion his return to the Dallas lineup will be the complete cure for the struggling Cowboys.
“We will find out on Sunday,” Romo said. “A lot of different people may have gotten to a point where they feel we might not have a chance to do what we hoped to do at the beginning of the year. … I think that is something that can bring a team together.”
The Cowboys (5-4) have gone from Super Bowl favorites to third place in the NFC East by losing four of their last six. They are 1-2 since Romo broke the pinkie on his throwing hand, but had the same record in the three games before he got hurt.
Romo, who returned to practice during last week’s open date, is ready to get back on the field Sunday night when the Cowboys play the Redskins in Washington. Romo doesn’t expect the pinkie to be a problem.
“It’s getting better,” Romo said Wednesday. “Every day it gets a little better and I’m confident that I’ll feel pretty good for the game.”
Asked what the pinkie might keep him from doing, Romo responded, “I don’t know that there will be anything.”
Romo said there is a “little bit of pain” taking snaps from center, but described that as “no different than having a little bruise or something. You just play through it.”
Terrell Owens said it’s obvious Romo is feeling better the way he is throwing the ball.
“He’s trying to get a feel for what he can do and what he can’t do,” Owens said. “We’re going to assess that, the coaches will, just like any practice. I don’t think they’re going to hold him back by any means.”
Romo got hurt on the first play of overtime in the Cowboys’ 30-24 loss at Arizona on Oct. 12.
While Dallas had struggled after a 3-0 start with Romo in the lineup, including a loss to Washington on Sept. 28, the offense was horrendous with Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger playing quarterback.
The Cowboys didn’t score more than 14 points in any of those three games, and won 13-9 over Tampa Bay despite a franchise-low 172 total yards. They then gained only 183 yards in 35-14 loss at the New York Giants before the much-needed open date.
Romo might not be the cure, but his return certainly won’t hurt.
“He has got zip on the ball. Players see that, and I think it helps our practices,” coach Wade Phillips said.
“He obviously helps, one of the best in the league,” tight end Jason Witten said. “But there’s other problems besides the quarterback being out. I think we all understand that.”
Left guard Kyle Kosier is expected to play after missing the last six games with a right foot injury, as is cornerback Terence Newman after being out five because of a sports hernia. Both Kosier and Newman practiced Wednesday, but rookie running back Felix Jones (hamstring) sat out again.
Phillips said Romo is making all the necessary throws, from the quick short routes to deep balls and crossing routes.
The bulky wrap that Romo initially wore, which covered three fingers and made throwing difficult, has been replaced by a splint wrapped around only his pinkie with some tape on his wrist.
Being off the field was difficult for Romo.
“It has felt longer (than three games),” Romo said.
But Romo spent his time on the sideline watching from a different perspective than he did his first 3 1/2 years with the Cowboys before becoming the starter midway through the 2006 season.
“I’ve done a lot of studying, and a lot of thinking about the game and trying to gain an understanding of what it is we may need to do a little bit differently or what we may need to continue to do or do better,” Romo said. “I feel very confident and excited going forward about things that we may have changed around, improved upon.”
While another loss to a divisional rival could be hard to overcome for the Cowboys, who are already three games behind the NFC East-leading Giants and a game behind the Redskins with losses to both of them, Romo has a different idea.
“I think this team has got a great second-half run in it,” Romo said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to show that this week.”