Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says the team isn’t ruling Tony Romo out of a winner-take-all game against the Philadelphia Eagles because doctors could clear him after treating his back injury.
Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that his quarterback has proven he can play with pain but won’t if doctors advise against it.
The Cowboys (8-7) and Eagles (9-6) are playing Sunday night in Dallas’ third straight season finale against an NFC East rival with the division title and a playoff berth on the line.
Romo was the starter in losses to the New York Giants two years ago and Redskins last season. He injured his back in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 24-23 win at Washington.
Kyle Orton, who hasn’t started a game since 2011, is the backup. The team website had a report on Tuesday night that Jon Kitna is coming out of retirement to join the Cowboys as the third quarterback.
The move is pending a physical for the 41-year-old Kitna, who retired after the 2011 season.
Jones said he had lengthy discussions with Romo and his doctors Monday about getting the 33-year-old ready to play. The owner wouldn’t discuss the details of Romo’s injury.
”If you know Tony, you can’t imagine what a competitor he is, and he doesn’t want to miss a snap,” Jones said. ”He was very disappointed, particularly disappointed for his team, repeated over and over again, `Jerry, I can’t tell you how badly I feel relative to you and relative to my teammates.”’
Romo didn’t miss a game in 2011 after breaking his ribs in Week 2 against San Francisco. He was heavily padded and medicated the next week against Washington and did enough to get the Cowboys an 18-16 win.
”Tony will play with all the pain,” Jones said. ”But his doctor has to clear him.”
If Romo isn’t cleared, Orton will make his first start since the 2011 season finale for Kansas City against Denver, the team that waived him earlier that year after making Tim Tebow the starter.
Orton signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Cowboys that offseason — an investment that Jones says was for just the scenario facing Dallas now.
”The main thing is that it’s not like Kyle Orton just gets here this morning or gets here tomorrow morning,” Jones said. ”Kyle Orton has been here and he knows this system frankly as well as Romo does. And has practiced it. He just doesn’t have the game time that he would have had as the starter, and he doesn’t get the reps.”
Romo and Orton are currently the only quarterbacks on the roster after Alex Tanney was claimed off the practice squad by Cleveland last month.
”If you don’t realize that you’re going to be dealing with injury information, sudden change in plans, then you’re in the wrong area,” Jones said. ”We’re in as good a shape under these circumstances as you could possibly be in. We have planned on this very event.”