Tony Romo adjusts to youth movement

Tony Romo begins a new journey as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He's now a teacher.

When Romo first became the starter in 2006 -- when then-coach Bill Parcells benched Drew Bledsoe in attempt to save the season -- he had a veteran receiving corps comprised of Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Patrick Crayton. Of course, there was still also tight end Jason Witten.

Romo's receivers remained veteran-heavy when Roy Williams replaced Owens.

But times have changed, and Romo now has a much younger group surrounding him.

"I've probably had one of the deeper receiving corps in the league," Romo said of when he first became a starter. "Some of these young guys are getting better each week, but we need them to step up and be sharp mentally, and that's the key for a lot of them."

Romo's development as a starter in the NFL was aided by the presence of experienced receivers. Now the page has turned and Romo is helping young receivers like Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree become students of the game.

Bryant said he loves catching passes from Romo and wants to become a dependable player for him. Ogletree said his own maturity as a receiver is partly based on "being a sponge," taking in whatever Romo and Witten have to say.

This is a critical time for Romo as the Cowboys try to bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 2010 season.

Miles Austin is a two-time Pro Bowler, but he just completed his first full 16-game season as a starter last season. Witten is still a safety net for Romo, but Austin is now the most experienced of the Cowboys' wideouts.

Austin still has a bright future ahead of him, but Bryant and Ogletree are also looked upon as talented players who can have a huge impact.

Bryant is turning into a reliable target for Romo because of his solid hands and the physicality with which he plays. He is hard to bring down and fights for every yard. He uses his size -- 6-foot-2, 225 pounds -- to beat up defenders. Before Bryant went out with a fractured ankle last season, he led the team in touchdowns.

"A couple of detailed things we need to get right," Romo said of Bryant. "He's doing a good job. When the ball is in the air, he attacks it and gets it."

Ogletree still battles with consistency, but he's a talented receiver whom some scouts think can become a productive No. 3.

"He needs to continue to work on the little things," Romo said. "But Kev has some ability and he's coming along, and I think he's going to do good things this year."

You see Romo teaching from time to time, whether it's telling Ogletree or Bryant about what to do against certain coverages, or letting Austin know he made a mistake.

And don't forget that rookies Dwayne Harris and Raymond Radway are also competing to make the 53-man roster. Romo will need to rely on these inexperienced players to help in the passing game.

Of course, he will have a better running game to help him, but the passing attack is what fuels the Cowboys.

And while it continues to grow, Romo still has some teaching to do.

"You're always at the quarterback position, trying to communicate and teach with the players and let them know what they need to do," he said. "Be in the right spot and on time. Guys are doing a good job and working hard and they know when I tell them something along those lines, it's important to do it."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.