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NFL notebook: Romo gives up offseason golf


The Sports Xchange

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has given up offseason golf to keep his back healthy and focus just on football.

The 35-year-old Romo, who underwent two back surgeries in 2013, has taken part in all six of the organized team activities during the last two weeks.

“Well, I love football,” Romo told reporters last week at the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association’s charity fashion show chaired by his wife, Candice. “I think what you find is that you love the game of football so much that it’s easy to have other things take a back seat.”

Romo is a scratch golfer, even making attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open, but he has put away his golf clubs this summer.

“I love to compete,” said Romo, who also had a fantasy sports event in Las Vegas canceled Friday because of the NFL’s concerns with the event’s connection to a casino property. “I think anybody who knows me well knows that competition is what I thrive on, regardless of what it is in life. I tell my wife sometimes, as long as I’m able to compete on a daily basis with something, I sleep well at night. I thrive on that.

“I’ve made it a competition with myself and I think that’s something that I’ve learned, that I’ve loved, which I’ve said before is competition. I’ve made it a competition to be at my best with my back, with my training, and I think that’s allowed me to consistently get stronger each day, each week, each month since the surgery last year. It’s showing in the strength department being able to go longer periods of time.”

In addition to the back surgeries in 2013, Romo missed one game last year with two transverse process fractures. His sacks dropped from 35 in 2013 to 29 in 2014, with an increased focus on the running game.

The four-time Pro Bowler is coming off the best season of his career, throwing for 3,705 yards with 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 113.2 during the Cowboys’ 12-4 season.

—The Cowboys, already using drones to film part of the team’s OTAs, plan to add virtual reality to help players improve on the field.

According to tech blog re/Code and confirmed by ESPN, the Cowboys have struck a deal with StriVR Labs, a virtual reality company with software that allows players a 3-D look at live action from practice using a virtual reality headset.

The Cowboys have added a new room for the system at their Valley Ranch facility in Irving, Texas, using the latest technology.

Former Stanford kicker Derek Belch developed the program that was used at his former school. StriVR also signed deals at Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Vanderbilt and Dartmouth.

The Cowboys have used a stationary camera behind the line of scrimmage during OTAs to give a 360-degree view of the plays, complete with sound. Quarterbacks and other players will wear a headset that allows them to see a live-action 3-D replay of a play from any direction. The system also will allow coaches to see if the players are making the proper reads or checks during each play.

—New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, with a year under coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense, hopes that will allow him to be even better in 2015.

Manning bounced back from a poor 2013 season to complete a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes in 2014, with 30 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

At this time last year, Manning also was coming off ankle surgery that limited his practice involvement during OTAs while the Giants were installing McAdoo’s new offense.

“It was important having this last month — watching the film, talking a lot about the mechanics, the footwork, being able to go outside with him and working on a lot of drill work,” Manning said last week during OTAs, via the team’s official website. “A lot of it is stuff I wasn’t able to do last year. I was coming off the ankle surgery, I had a new offense — of lot of things going through the mind, trying to figure out concepts. This year, I understand the concepts. I’m still working on it, but I’m concentrating on the footwork and the mechanics and the timing of everything. It was great to have that this year and kind of get back to the basics of everything. I feel comfortable, I feel real good right now.”

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