Cowboys’ Witten explains what makes Romo ‘elite’

In 2014, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was in the conversation for league MVP leading the NFL in completion percentage, passer rating, and wins. Tight end and best friend Jason Witten gave insight as to what makes the 35-year-old signal caller play at a high level.

"His standard and his expectation for what he wants to do and achieve is so much higher than what any of us thinks," Witten said Sunday at the Citi Jason Witten Football ProCamp. "So, he’s constantly changing things to give himself a chance to be at his best."

Romo’s biggest challenge last off-season was coming off a surgery to repair a herniated disc he sustained on Dec. 22, 2013 in a Week 16 game in Washington to keep the club’s tenuous playoff hopes alive. It was Romo’s second back procedure in two consecutive off-seasons. Doubts swirled that the undrafted quarterback out of Eastern Illinois would make it through the season.

"I thought the last 12 months was remarkable," Witten said. "Coming off the surgery and to play as well as he did and the kind of maintenance that he did with his back. And going into San Francisco and not playing well and just coming back and going 16, 17 weeks strong and having his best year yet."

On opening day, Romo threw a touchdown and three interceptions and logged a 60.8 passer rating, his career worst for the first game of the season as the 49ers drilled the Cowboys 28-17. But Romo responded the next 14 games with a 118.1 passer rating with 33 touchdowns and six interceptions.

"He worked his tail off. He did the maintenance with his back. And playing at a high level; just great leadership. I thought he did a great job.  And I think that’s what makes him elite is how he’s approached it." 

After the San Francisco game, Romo began taking Wednesday practices off to spend time in the weight room working on his core. Romo would return to Thursday and Friday practices to get ready for game days.

"He played as well as he’s ever played," said Witten. "I think the way he’s handled his back and the way he’s on top of his body, he’ll play as long as he wants to play."

Recently, Romo said he could play for another four to five years behind the Cowboys’ young, talented offensive line. If Romo continues to take care of his body as the blue-chip talent up front protects him in passing situations, it could happen. Romo would surpass Roger Staubach as the oldest playoff-winning Cowboys quarterback if this occurred.

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