Tony Romo is on the shelf once again with a back injury, and Dallas Cowboys fans are clinging to any hope they can get to survive the first half of the 2016 campaign without their starting quarterback. Highly-touted rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott will give Dallas plenty of reason to be optimistic, and fans may just forget about the Tony Romo injury after the first couple weeks of the season.
Now, that may sound like an overly bullish prognostication for a team that relies so heavily on its veteran signal-caller, but the truth is the Cowboys are built on the foundation of a brutish offensive line. That line paved the way for DeMarco Murray to stampede all over the NFL in 2013, and there have been more than a few folks comparing the incoming rookie Elliott to Murray. The starting QB will be missed in the passing game, sure, but it may not be too outlandish to say that the Tony Romo injury will actually help the Cowboys find their identity early in the season.
With a rookie in Dak Prescott at the quarterback position, there’s no denying the fact that the Cowboys would rather have Elliott toting the rock than Prescott slinging it all over the lot. Add to that a suspect defense that is going to need some help from the offense in order to even stay in games this season and a rushing focus should be even more important to help shorten games and bleed the clock while keeping the defense on the sideline.
At 36 years of age, perhaps a timetable of missing six to 10 weeks with a compression fracture in his back is a bit too upbeat for a guy like Tony Romo with a history of back trouble. The Cowboys would certainly welcome him back as soon as possible, but it’s always beneficial to plan for the worst. If Romo is unable to get back as soon as anticipated, at least the Cowboys should have a blueprint established for how to survive the season and make the best out of a bad situation.
“We’re confident that he’s going to be coming back and playing football for us this year,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told USA Today Sports of the Tony Romo injury.
With three back injuries now since Week 16 of 2013 (December 22), Romo has to be considered somewhat fragile at this point. The Cowboys QB is an antique in NFL player terms, and the fact that Romo’s injury history isn’t limited to just his back issues should be troubling to any fan of the team.
It actually might make the most sense for the Cowboys to place Tony Romo on injured reserve (IR) in order to free up a roster spot after the final round of cuts take place on August 30. At that point the team may be able to add a veteran quarterback who could get let go. Many are projecting the New York Jets to cut ties with either Geno Smith or Bryce Petty, and either one would provide some much-needed depth in Romo’s absence with Prescott and unknown second-year man Jameill Showers as the only guys currently on the depth chart.
Teams need to know their roster and play to its strengths, and it’s quite possible that the Tony Romo injury will force the Cowboys to do just that by handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott more often in the early going. What this could do for Romo is help take the pressure off of him when he does eventually return to the lineup. Although Jerry Jones is likely confident about Romo’s replacement in Prescott at the moment, it’s a lot easier to have that reassurance with a workhorse back like Elliott to carry the load.
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