Away we go:
When Dez Bryant came back to the lineup three weeks ago, Jason Garrett said it is only natural for the wide receiver to be a little rusty after such a long layoff with the broken foot. Now that Romo is coming back from a two-month break, I wonder how much rust there will be in his game. He was able to practice for two weeks, which is a positive, but I don't think running the scout team cures all. The only other time we can look at in Romo's career in which he came back from a long break was in 2008 after he broke a pinky finger. He missed three games. In his first game back, the Cowboys won, 14-10, against the Washington Redskins but he threw for only 198 yards and had one touchdown and two interceptions. He followed that up with back-to-back 300-yard games with six touchdowns and one interception in wins. They went 4-3 down the stretch but the losses were killers.
While much of the focus of Romo's return has been about the first game back against the Miami Dolphins, let's not forget he will have to play two games in five days with the Carolina Panthers visiting on Thanksgiving. If the Cowboys had been 4-5 or better during his absence I wonder if they would have had Romo take this week off and come back against Carolina, setting him up with a 10-day break between games before the stretch run. Against the Philadelphia Eagles last year on Thanksgiving Romo and the rest of the Cowboys struggled. After that game Romo revealed he did not take a pain-killing injection before kickoff, which seemed a little odd. The Cowboys have said Romo will play despite the 2-7 record, but he's certainly not getting any favors with two games in such a small window.
Let's keep it with the Cowboys' Class of 2003 and Jason Witten. This week he will play in his 197th straight game, breaking Bob Lilly's franchise mark for consecutive games played. While I wonder if Witten will break Ed "Too Tall" Jones' record for games played (224), I really wonder this: How long will it take for the Cowboys to give out No. 82 after Witten decides to retire. The Cowboys don't officially retire numbers, but Lilly's No. 74 has not been worn since he retired in 1974. Nobody has worn Roger Staubach's No. 12, Troy Aikman's No. 8 and Emmitt Smith's No. 22 either. The No. 82 will be held in the same regard when Witten retires, but there might not be the opportunity to keep it out of the rotation since receivers and tight ends only have so many numbers to pick from. I can see the Cowboys giving out No. 82 for preseason, like they have done with Lilly's No. 74, but making sure it's not used for a long time in a regular season.
Not much was known about Jack Crawford when the Cowboys added him to the roster last year. He's developed into a nice rotational piece to their defensive line and is tied for second on the team with three sacks. He is set to be a free agent when the season ends and I wonder if the Cowboys look to get a deal done with him. Nothing major, mind you, like a solid three-year deal with decent money. Crawford has position flexibility, which is hard to find these days among defensive lineman.
When people want the Cowboys to play their younger players, I wonder who they are talking about. Byron Jones is already playing every snap. La'el Collins is a starter at left guard. Can they play Randy Gregory more? Sure, he can get some more snaps. David Irving has done a nice job in the defensive line rotation. Do you want more Ryan Russell, Damien Wilson, Geoff Swaim and Devin Street? The Cowboys are a relatively young team and the young guys playing have earned the snaps.