Cowboys sign retired QB Jon Kitna as emergency behind Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna (3) looks to pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Cowboys win 23-17.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys making moves on a trio of quarterback fronts: Overseeing a steroid injection for Tony Romo’s disc problem in hopes that he can play Sunday; preparing well-paid veteran backup Kyle Orton to serve as the starter in the Week 17 showdown against the visiting Eagles; and signing 41-year-old Jon Kitna – three years after his NFL retirement — to serve as the third-string quarterback.

Sources tell FOX Sports Southwest that Romo is undergoing a battery of therapeutic efforts – laser treatment, anti-spasmodics, untrasound, electronic therapy, spinal traction and the steroid injection – that belie premature reports that the back injury will sideline him for the season.

Sources have also said that if Romo’s problem is "motor-skills-related" he is out, but that if the issue (a disc pressing against nerves) is "only pain-related" that he has a chance to play.

"Tony will play with all the pain," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told radio station 105.3 The Fan. "But his doctor hasn’t cleared him. … "He is going through treatment beginning [Monday] and if that treatment has positive implications that it certainly has a chance to have, then he should not be ruled out in any way for this game."

In the meantime, the veteran Orton – who signed a signed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract before the 2012 season for what Jones said was occasions just like this one — is being penciled in as the starter. And while the Cowboys gave Valley Ranch tryouts to a handful of other street-free-agent QBs (David Carr, Tyler Thigpen, Caleb Hanie and John Skelton), they have so little time to make sure an extra quarterback is capable of consuming the playbook by Sunday that they are going with Kitna, 41.

The trust level here is high; Kitna, now a coach and teacher in Tacoma, got the the call at his home and agreed to re-join his old team without a tryout.