IRVING, Texas -- Just about anybody who sees Tony Romo on the field this offseason says the same thing: He looks really good.
Dallas Cowboys legend Gil Brandt said as much last week after seeing Romo work through an organized team activity.
These are nice thing to say in an offseason, but Romo’s absence from the Cowboys’ lineup for 12 games last year has made any and all news about the quarterback more important this season. There might not be a player in the NFL more important to his team’s success than Romo.
“He’s throwing with a lot of velocity and a lot of accuracy,” said Wade Wilson, Romo’s quarterbacks coach since 2007. “He missed a lot of the season last year so he’s got a rejuvenated spirit out there and he’s really into it and pushing the other guys. And we’re putting in a few new things. It’s got him excited.”
However, Romo spins away from such talk the way he spins away from on-rushing defenders, seeing the answer before the questioner is done.
"Well, I don't think anything matters until you play football games,” Romo said. "No one actually cares at this time of year what's going on because they don't see you, but us as football players, we can tell when we take a step or improve. I'm excited what I feel like is an improvement in some areas. That makes you excited to go play in the football game. We'll see what happens. But I think we're going to have a good chance.”
So much talk around Romo this offseason has been about his age -- he turned 36 in April -- and health, as he hasn’t played a full season since 2012.
“I understand where I’m at in my career,” Romo said. “I also understand that I was hurt and banged up last year, but it’s a collarbone. I don’t think my collarbone is going to be anything that takes you out every year that you play football.”
Unlike the back surgeries that limited his work in the 2013 and 2014 offseasons, the collarbone hasn’t prevented Romo from working on his craft this time around. The minute details matter most to him, which is why he has a collection of photos of all types of quarterbacks’ release points. He studies them like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ poster, looking at hand placement, elbow angle and follow through and then incorporating that into his game.
“He’s always trying to take something that he’s trying to tinker with on his throwing motion,” Wilson said. “He’s getting himself a little more open this year.”
When a quarterback keeps himself open, he doesn’t have to throw across his body as much. He has better vision on the entire defense. He can get into a throwing position faster and thus get rid of the ball faster. As last year’s injuries proved, the faster the decisions, the less likely he will get hit.
Romo hardly ever discusses what he’s working on, preferring to keep it to himself until he sees the work pay off.
It’s early June, so he’s not about to proclaim he’s back or he’s set for his best season.
“Some of the things I've been working on have taken a couple of years,” Romo said. “I'm pretty excited about seeing them come to fruition. I've got a long way to go, but it's a good start. That's all it is right now: A good start. If I can continue to build off that and certain techniques that I won't bore you with, I think they're going to be able to hold up.
“I feel very excited about what that could possibly entail moving forward.”