Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cowboys midweek: To play or not to play

Midweek reports suggest it's possible for Tony Romo to play in the Cowboys/Rams game in St. Louis this week. Romo has received calls from Brett Favre, has sports writers suggesting he heed advice from Drew Bledsoe, and he's telling Dallas coaches he wants to play.

There is no assurance he can protect the ball, take a snap or deliver the ball accurately under game conditions.

The Cowboys' biggest concern is that Romo gets hit again, causing him to miss more time than initially anticipated and possibly require surgery.

While it would be great to see the Cowboys leader and franchise QB take the field to give his team an emotional lift, I hardly think the St. Louis Rams game is the time to make this sort of statement.

St. Louis could play like the firecracker that ignited last week in Washington. Or perhaps that win opened the shaken-up coke can, and all the fizz is now gone. Whatever the case, the Cowboys cannot take this game lightly. Because the Rams did finally get their first win of the season, it's plausible that they will either return to the Sacrificial Rams after the pressure of getting in the win column if off their shoulders, or that the Redskins win has given them added confidence and now they want to win in front of their own fans. Whichever side you'd like to believe, the Cowboys will not have a cakewalk in St. Louis.

That being said, I think Romo should sit this one out. If he plays and Dallas wins and his finger isn't banged up any worse, that's great. At the same time, I don't think it's worth the risk. Brad Johnson is a capable quarterback and the offense around him is filled with weapons. Jerry Jones says the final decision on Romo will be made by Romo and Wade Phillips. If Romo is intent on playing, give him the first quarter, let him see how it feels, and if there are any signs of him struggling or favoring his finger, don't wait for the quarterback to bring it up. Sit him on the bench and protect your organization's future rather than jeopardizing it against St. Louis.

In other Cowboys news, hearing Warren Sapp weigh in on why Brad Johnson will be able to work well with Terrell Owens brought a smile to my face. I've heard T.O. referred to as a lot of things, but choirboy is definitely new to the list.

Retired DT Warren Sapp, who won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson in Tampa Bay, was asked what the veteran QB could bring to the Cowboys.

"An accurate quarterback, a championship, someone that knows the ropes and how to distribute the ball," Sapp said on Showtime's Inside the NFL, per Barry Horn's sports media blog. "He's played with worse malcontents than T.O. He played with Keyshawn (Johnson, Tampa Bay). Keyshawn was kicked off the team, away from us.

"Terrell Owens is a choirboy compared to Keyshawn. He'll get the ball and distribute it and they'll be fine."

As T.O. has pointed out a time or 200, he's also a heck of a lot better receiver than Keyshawn.

Just a reminder, the Cowboys moved Keyshawn when they brought in Terrell Owens. Keyshawn Johnson played one more year (Carolina) before the Panthers released him after drafting fellow USC WR Dwayne Jarrett. So if KJ isn't TO's bff, you know why.

Officially Game Over? Eh, not quite, but all the signs are there that Adam "we've gotta be able to call him Pacman in light of his most recent suspension" Jones will not be returning to the Cowboys. GOOD! As I said yesterday, the Cowboys need to move on without him, and it sounds like Wade Phillips is ready and willing to do that.

While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seemed to suggest there is a small possibility of welcoming suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones back to the team if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should reinstate him this year, head coach Wade Phillips said he's operating under the assumption he's not returning to the team.

"It's like losing a player to injury. He's gone so we have to move forward," Phillips said after Wednesday's practice.

And when pressed on the issue, Phillips said, "We don't have him, that's where we are, so I can't count on him . . . I mean he's gone, that's what it looks like to me. I'm not saying what's going to happen in the future, because I don't know what's going to happen in the future or what is or isn't going to be done there, but I can't go there. I've got to coach the players I have."

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