Romo’s injury shouldn’t be taken lightly

The Dallas Cowboys will likely be without starting quarterback Tony Romo until training camp because of a cyst that he had surgically removed from his back last month. I’m sure head coach Jason Garrett will attempt to downplay the impact of losing Romo for three weeks of organized training activities and a mandatory minicamp in June, but this could certainly stunt the development of the offense. Romo was optimistic about his prognosis Tuesday.

“If this was the regular season and I had to play next week, I could,” Romo told The Dallas Morning News. “This is just about being smart. That’s why I did it now. This will have no effect on training camp. No way will it have an impact. And I still think there’s a good chance I’m on the field for minicamp.”

But the timing is particularly bad because the Cowboys are hoping to feature more of a two tight end offense after selecting Gavin Escobar in the second round of April’s draft. And Romo was looking forward to working with first-round pick Travis Frederick at center. For a team that still hasn’t announced who’s calling the plays in 2013 (likely Garrett), this provides another speed bump. Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant finally developed some chemistry in the second half of last season, but they need time to continue that process. Romo has told me many times in the past how much he values OTAs because he’s able to tinker with new concepts and bond with teammates.

I’m sure Romo will still have a vocal presence in practice, but that’s not the same as getting actual repetitions with his teammates. Romo told the News that he elected to have the surgery because he wanted to play at 100 percent instead of “96 percent.” The Cowboys are in the process of overhauling their running game and trying to identify who will play both guard spots. For now, those players will be working with Kyle Orton, the only legitimate backup quarterback on the roster.

Romo has returned from numerous injuries over the years, so I fully expect him to play well this season. But anyone saying this isn’t an issue is being pretty naïve.