On the radar: Romo's next step

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

As many of you might recall, last year's offseason theme for the Dallas Cowboys was a "Romo friendly offense." Doesn't that seem like 10 years ago now?

Well, things worked out pretty well for that offense as Tony Romo led the Cowboys to their first playoff win in 13 years. The debacle in Minneapolis left a sour taste, but '09 was obviously a step forward for the organization. Now, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is asking Romo to take an even bigger step in the process.

Jones and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett now believe that Romo has the ability to raise everyone's level of play. Now that he's no longer defined by December swoons, there's a belief that he's capable of getting this team to a Super Bowl. This offseason, Romo has taken more of a vocal role on the team.

In '08 and even to a certain extent last season, Romo sort of took care of his business and hoped that his teammates would do the same. He's taken a different approach to the 2010 season. When his pal Miles Austin skipped the first two weeks of voluntary workouts, Romo jumped on the phone and told him it was time to come back to Valley Ranch. Players such as veteran linebacker Keith Brooking have told me that they've noticed a change in Romo.

In practices, he's offering the defense feedback and he's not afraid to get in someone's face if they make a mistake. It seems like Romo's success in the playoffs, albeit limited, has given him more credibility with his teammates. I realize there's a perception that Romo's more interested in playing golf and hanging with celebrities, but that's not reality.

In the offseason, he'll devour sports books and then try to figure out how to apply it to his game. He read a Johnny Unitas book a few years ago that changed the way he thought about the quarterback position. Romo realized that his actions in practices and in the locker room truly mattered and that he would set the tone for his teammates.

Now, he has more confidence than ever. I think he may be poised for his first All-Pro season with the Cowboys. But get back to me in December on that one.