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With Romo out, Cowboys will shop for QB

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IRVING, Texas — With Dallas Cowboys team leader Tony Romo due for shoulder surgery and then rehab for eight to 10 weeks, backup quarterback Brandon Weeden ascends to the starting role beginning Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

And look for the Cowboys to sign another veteran backup, either via trade or off the list of allegedly retired quarterbacks, such as Kyle Orton, who is attempting his third retirement this year.

The Cowboys kept only Romo and Weeden as quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and their only other options in-house are practice-squad quarterbacks Kellen Moore and Jamiell Showers.

When asked, vice president Stephen Jones did not rule out signing a free agent or adding a quarterback via trade.

“We’ve been hard at it,” Jones said. “I don’t think it’s fair to throw out any names yet. There’s a lot of ways to acquire players. You can get them off the street. You can get them off of other people’s practice squads. You can trade for them. There’s a lot of ways to look at it. Certainly we’re going to uncover every stone knowing that Tony is probably going to be out for weeks here.

“We’ve got to take a look at it and see here what’s going to be the alternative if Brandon were to have an injury, God forbid, but if he were to have an injury who’s up next. So, we’re certainly looking at that. Probably we’ll end up having some guys to work out over the next day or two and we’ll go from there and make a decision from there.”

Jones wouldn’t rule out asking Orton to come out of retirement.

“I wouldn’t rule anybody out.” Jones said. “Anybody who’s had success and played well in the NFL and isn’t on a team or is on another team that might be, that team might be willing to move him, we’ll look at him.”

Still, the Cowboys have faith in Weeden as starter. The question is can he win games? He was the No. 22 overall draft pick for the Cleveland Browns in 2012 and is 5-16 as a starter in his career, although it is difficult to assign him all the blame for anything that happened in Cleveland.

He has an eight-game losing streak, with his last victory coming in a 30-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2012. The Cowboys are 6-9 in the 15 games they have played without Romo since he became the starter in 2006.

There is no question that the loss of Romo with a fractured clavicle cast a pall over the Cowboys’ 20-10 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. And it certainly put dreams of a Super Bowl on hold.

“Sure, sure, to be honest with you sure,” Jones said when asked if the Romo injury takes away some of the excitement of the victory. “Not having Tony is a big deal.”

It was a Romo injury and subsequent missed games that derailed the Cowboys the last two times they followed up division titles by missing the playoffs the following season.

In 2008, he missed three games with a fractured finger after the Cowboys went 13-3 in 2007. The Cowboys finished 9-7 in 2008 and missed the playoffs in the final game of the season.

After the Cowboys went 11-5 in 2009, Romo fractured his left collarbone in 2010. He missed the final 10 games of the season and the Cowboys finished 6-10. In the middle of all that, Wade Phillips was replaced as head coach by Jason Garrett when the team was 1-7.

But Jones also believes the Cowboys are better equipped to survive while Romo rehabs because there is confidence in Weeden in the interim. Jones believes the whole team is deeper in talent this year than when Romo was sidelined in the past.

The Cowboys’ defense is playing at an exceedingly high level and should be even better when linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy return from four-game suspensions and defensive end Randy Gregory returns from an ankle injury.

“I do like our team,” Jones said. “We have a team that everybody has a lot of confidence in. The team has a lot of confidence in itself. Just gather troops and suit up. We got the Falcons next.”

It also helps that the Cowboys’ start has them 2-0 in the seemingly average NFC East. The Eagles and Giants are 0-2 while Redskins are 1-1.

But most important is the next man up mindset Garrett has instilled in the Cowboys.

Weeden stepped in and completed all seven of his passes for 73 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to receiver Terrance Willliams.

“We just focus on what we do,” Garrett said. “Guys are ready to play, Guys stepped up. You think about the guys that went in for them, they were the guys that made the significant plays throughout the ballgame.”

REPORT CARD VS. EAGLES

–PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus — Tony Romo completed 18 of 27 passes for 195 yards before he got injured in the third quarter. Give Brandon Weeden some credit. He played mistake free and guided the team to victory, completing 7 of 7 passes, including a 41-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams. The receivers played winning football without Dez Bryant for the first time.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus — It’s fun to pick on DeMarco Murray and his horrible start with the Eagles after leaving the Cowboys for more money in the offseason. But what’s also true is that the Cowboys are not tearing it up on the ground themselves. The Cowboys have just 189 yards rushing in the first two games combined and leader Joseph Randle has 116 yards and is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Murray is running to nowhere with the Eagles. But the Cowboys are not better on the ground without him.

–PASS DEFENSE: A — The Cowboys didn’t record any sacks but they got a lot of pressure and the secondary is playing lights out. Sam Bradford completed 22 of 37 passes for 224 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Jordan Matthews had six catches for 80 yards but he was held in check by Tyler Patmon.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A — The run defense against the Eagles was something to behold. The Cowboys’ defense held the Eagles’ rushing offense to seven yards on 17 rushes to mark the second-lowest rushing yards allowed in a game in team history since 1991 — the furthest back this stat can be tracked. DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys’ league-leading rusher last year before he went to the Eagles in free agency, was held to two yards on 13 carries, or .15 yards per try.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A — Chris Jones had six punts with an average of 45.8. Danny McCray had a blocked punt that Kyle Wilber returned for a touchdown. Lance Dunbar had a 31-yard kickoff return.

–COACHING: A — Jason Garrett has the Cowboys continuing to play well in the face of adversity. They lost Dez Bryant in the second half of the season opener and still came back to win. They lost quarterback Tony Romo in the second half of game two and still held on to victory. There is no panic in this team. The defense was the story of the game against the Eagles with the second best rush defense team history.


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