The Dallas Cowboys placed their starting quarterback on the injured reserve/designated to return list on Tuesday, which will keep him out for the next eight weeks as he recovers from a broken left collarbone. Romo will not have surgery to repair the collarbone.
Romo will miss seven games because of the Cowboys' Oct. 18 bye week.
Brandon Weeden will be the starter in Romo's absence, and the team is working out Christian Ponder, Josh Johnson, Matt Flynn and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, though it may also look to call up Kellen Moore from the practice squad.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday in a radio interview that he's confident that Weeden can handle the job.
"He's a thing of beauty on throwing a football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won't see a more gifted passer, power, accuracy, the entire aspect of it. If he can basically prepare, be the starting quarterback, come in and execute and keep his head right, then I feel good about Weeden," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan Dallas/Fort Worth.
The move to short-term injured reserve opens up a roster spot for the Cowboys. Last year, the Cowboys placed defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the list at the start of the season because of a foot injury and he missed the first eight games of his rookie season.
Had the Cowboys placed wide receiver Dez Bryant, who is recovering from foot surgery, on the list, then they would have had to have keep Romo on the 53-man roster. A team can use the designation on only one player.
Romo suffered the same injury in 2010 in a Week 7 loss to the New York Giants. The Cowboys held out hope he could return at some point but placed him on injured reserve with two games to go. Garrett, who was named the Cowboys' interim coach after eight games that season, said Romo was close to returning.
But the decision came down to "the value of bringing him back and potentially risking him breaking it again," Garrett said. "We decided against it because we weren't in playoff contention."
Under the injured reserve rules, Romo will not be able to practice for six weeks, though it's unlikely he would have been cleared to do so anyway.
The Cowboys could have a decision to make on when Romo returns to game action. While he will be eligible to play Nov. 22 against the Dolphins, the Cowboys have a short week of preparation for their Thanksgiving matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Would it be wiser to wait until the Panthers' game instead of having Romo play two games in five days after a two-month absence?
A lot of it could depend on the Cowboys' success in Romo's absence.
If Weeden is able to keep the Cowboys afloat, then that might buy them time in Romo's return.