Dak Prescott’s interaction with his new backup wasn’t much different after Tony Romo’s heartfelt speech that conceded the Cowboys’ starting job to the rookie quarterback.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett talked matter-of-factly to the 36-year-old about being No. 2 for the first time since Garrett joined the staff in 2007. And tight end Jason Witten, Romo’s best friend on the team, wasn’t sure what to make of all the fuss.
While the outside world spent two days pondering Romo’s retirement or relocation – sometimes both – the Cowboys had another couple of workdays in a regular week.
“I think that was more for y’all than for me or for this team,” Prescott said Wednesday , a day after Romo said the 23-year-old had earned the right to keep the job that Romo took from Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the 2006 season.
“We know each other, how we feel about the situation. He’s been a great leader, a great model for me to look up to and watch every day. So I’m not surprised.”
Prescott will start Sunday against Baltimore (5-4) looking for a franchise season-best ninth straight win, a run that has carried the Cowboys (8-1) to the best record in the NFL.
Romo, whose back injury in a preseason game created the opening for Prescott, is expected to be his backup for the first time in the four-time Pro Bowler’s first game on the active roster since last Thanksgiving.
A surprising success as a fourth-round pick that started training camp as a third-stringer, Prescott frequently said early in the winning streak that he was piloting Romo’s team. He can’t do that anymore since Romo himself has said otherwise. But Prescott still won’t call it his team.
“This is our team,” said Prescott, who is fourth in the NFL in passer rating with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. “I said that two minutes ago and I’ll say it again. Everybody plays a part in our success in what’s happened and they’ll play a part in the adversity that comes.”
Garrett, a backup to Troy Aikman when the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls in the 1990s, was the new offensive coordinator in Romo’s first full season as the starter before replacing fired coach Wade Phillips three years later, in the middle of the 2010 season.
They have been seen together frequently at sporting events in the offseason, but Garrett had little interest in discussing the impact of Romo’s words.
“Our focus is getting ready to play the Ravens,” Garrett said. “Tony is a professional. He’s done an outstanding job preparing himself for whatever role he’s been in since I’ve been here and that’s what the expectation is. He’s going to embrace it fully.”
Witten was a third-round pick in 2003, the same year Romo signed as an undrafted free agent. He said he was in the weight room when he found out Romo was addressing reporters , and Witten finally let his exasperation show when someone offered the “what if” of Romo having taken his last snap with the Cowboys.
“C’mon guys,” Witten said. “I mean, he embodies everything you want. He said it. Let’s move forward with the football team. I don’t think that’s entered my mind and it hasn’t entered anybody’s mind.”
The 34-year-old Witten was mindful of the difficulty Romo faced in making the speech. And while he and Romo share the reality that their careers are winding down, Witten also has become a valuable target for Prescott. Two weeks ago, he had his first 100-yard game in three years.
“We’ve been together a long time and Tony’s been hurt before,” Witten said. “Things come up, so I think you just encourage him and he’s always felt like a key part of this team.”
NOTES: TE Geoff Swaim was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury, ending his season. WR Vince Mayle was elevated from the practice squad and is expected to be used as a tight end. The Cowboys signed G Clay DeBord to the practice squad.
SOURCE: The Associated Press