FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will keep Tony Romo on their active roster, according to a source, in hopes that the quarterback can return sooner rather than later from a compression fracture in his back.
If the Cowboys put Romo on injured reserve, he would miss at least the first eight weeks of the season, per league rules. Rookie Dak Prescott will start in Romo's absence, beginning with the season opener against the New York Giants.
On Sunday, the Cowboys announced the signing of veteran Mark Sanchez to be Prescott's backup. The Cowboys made room for Sanchez on the roster by waiving Jameill Showers instead of placing Romo on injured reserve.
After Romo was hurt Aug. 25 against the Seattle Seahawks, sources said he would need 6-10 weeks to recover. If he returns at the early end of the timeline, he would play Oct. 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals or Oct. 16 against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys have their bye week Oct. 23.
If he needs the full timeline, he would return Nov. 6 against the Cleveland Browns. If the Cowboys had placed him on injured reserve, the first game he would be able to play would be against the Browns.
Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra when he was driven into the turf by Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril during a preseason game. Romo was going into a slide when the hit occurred. He wanted to re-enter the game but the coaches held him out, and an MRI the next day revealed the fracture.
He is scheduled to be in a back brace for another week.
After the preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the decision on Romo could come down to one game that could make a difference in a playoff spot.
The Cowboys are now hoping Romo is a quick healer.