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Romo practices, can’t play for Cowboys until Nov. 22

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IRVING, Texas — Quarterback Tony Romo returned to practice Wednesday, albeit on a limit basis. But it was good news for a Cowboys team has lost five straight games since Romo suffered a fractured collarbone.

Too bad Romo can’t play until Nov. 22 against the Miami Dolphins.

Matt Cassel will start against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) in a must win game for the Cowboys (2-5).

“Oh, it’s a team thing; you win and lose as a team,” Garrett said Wednesday. “It’s coaches, players, offense, defense, special teams. It’s everybody. We are all a part of it. When you have success, it’s a collective responsibility. When things don’t go well, there’s collective responsibility. Certainly Tony is a very important player on our team.

“(Wide receiver) Dez Bryant is a very important player on our team. But we don’t live in that world. We live in the world about what the opportunity is in front of us, get the guys ready to play who are available to you and go play your best. And that’s what we try to do.”

Of course winning without Romo has been a problem for the reeling Cowboys.

Brandon Weeden went 0-3 as the team’s starter before Cassel took over. He has gone 0-2.

It goes without saying that the Cowboys were 2-0 and ready to live up to their Super Bowl hype before Romo was injured.

In the two games with Romo, the Cowboys averaged 23.5 points, 397.5 total yards and 303 passing yards. In the five games without Romo, the Cowboys have averaged 17.2 points, 325.4 yards and 184.2 passing yards.

The Cowboys have failed to score a touchdown in two of the last three games. They have had seven red-zone possessions the past three games, scoring only one touchdown and getting five field goals.

Big plays are lacking for the Cowboys. They had one passing play of 20 yards or more against the Patriots, five against the Giants, and despite Bryant’s return from a five-game absence while recovering from foot surgery, none against the Seahawks.

“I think you cut the field in half if you get a big chunk play,” Cassel said. “You don’t have to go first, second, third down, first, second, third down.

“Those guys on the other side are pretty good, too, and so when you have to go the full length of the field, and you’re not able to get that chunk play, a lot of times it becomes a lot more difficult.”

Romo looked good in practice Wednesday as he went through pat-and-go, threw some individual routes with the group and then threw on the side. Cassel took all the first-team reps.

“Tony has been a really good player for us,” Garrett said. “One of the things about Tony is in his absence he always stays engaged. It’s not like he has been away. But it will be nice to see him out there throwing a little bit. He was throwing a little bit last week. That’s always a positive sign.

“He has a great way about him. He is a natural leader. He has been really helpful during the week of preparation and also during the game for the other quarterbacks and whole football team.”

THE SERIES: 114th meeting. Dallas leads the series, 64-49. Dallas has won five of the last seven games against the Eagles and two in a row.

GAME PLAN: The Cowboys will have stop the run and then get after quarterback Sam Bradford. Of course, the key is reading their key and staying fundamentally sound and discipline against the Eagles’ up tempo offense. The Eagles don’t have game breaking receivers so coverage busts are the biggest fear. Offensively, the Cowboys will try to force the ground game with running back Darren McFadden to set up big plays off the play pass from quarterback Matt Cassel. He will need to take shots down the field but he can’t be careless with the ball.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Eagles RB DeMarco Murray vs. the Cowboys run defense.

The Eagles have rushed for 186, 158 and 177 yards the last three games. Murray seems to have found his stride, rushing for 260 yards on 59 carries in that stretch. He had 18 carries for 65 yards and no touchdowns in the Eagles’ 27-16 loss to Carolina on Oct. 25. Murray, who has 307 yards and three touchdowns on 88 carries this season, will be facing the Cowboys off a bye week. The Cowboys rank 13th against the run. Devonta Freeman of Atlanta is the only back with 100 yards against the Cowboys this season. He had 141 on 30 carries on Sept. 27.

–Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Eagles CB Byron Maxwell.

If the Cowboys are going to get things going on offense, they need impact plays from Bryant, who had only two catches for 12 yards against the Seahawks last week in his first game after breaking a bone in his right foot in the opener.

The Eagles know and expect to get a heavy dose of Bryant and a better Bryant than a week ago when he fought off rust and as well as the smothering coverage of Richard Sherman of Seattle. Maxwell played against Bryant when he was with Seattle last year, but he doesn’t have Sherman on the other side this time around.


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