Re-Shuffling the Cards

Parcells moves Tony Romo to the second team...sort of. <BR>

Without really saying a thing, Dallas head coach Bill Parcells said Wednesday that Tony Romo has leapfrogged over much-heralded rookie Drew Henson to be the team's No. 2 quarterback.

Parcells said Romo would be No. 2, but he sure didn't sound emphatic about it, going so far as to say he "hadn't decided yet" whether the change on the depth chart means that Romo would be first off the bench in the event of an injury to starter Vinny Testaverde or a potential blowout against Philadelphia.

What this means, exactly, remains remarkably unclear after Wednesday's announcement. Is this a reflection of disappointment Parcells might have in Henson, who has been viewed by many observers as the quarterback of the future since he arrived? Is it a reward for better practice performance by Romo? Is it nothing more than Parcells hoping to get a look at Romo under game conditions, since he already has had a peek at Henson in games?

It's hard to say.

Parcells stuck to his normal stance, maintaining that as long as the Cowboys have even the slimmest mathematical chance of reaching the NFL playoffs, he will continue to play whoever gives the team the best chance to win -- and in Parcells' mind, that means Testaverde remains the team's passer.

In the meantime, the role of the backup QBs is not something Parcells addressed in depth at Wednesday's press conference. Romo has gotten slightly more reps in practice recently than earlier in the season, but with the need to prepare the starter as thoroughly as possible through extensive practice time, those chances in practice for the backups are limited.

"Either guy is very capable," Testaverde said of Romo and Henson. "Both of them have ability, and both of them work very hard. It's hard during the season, though, because they just don't get a lot of reps."

Henson wasn't in the locker room when the media had access. But Romo was so swarmed an observer would have been forgiven if he thought Romo had bypassed Testaverde -- as well as Henson -- on the depth chart.

"It's always a confidence boost when you move up," Romo said. "But you never know, it could be 'here today, gone tomorrow.'"

Romo was asked if he found it odd that Parcells would juggle his reserve quarterbacks this late in the season.

"I don't think anything's odd around here anymore," Romo said. "I've only been here two years, but I've been here with Bill both years. He's going to go with who he's confident in."

Parcells said the move was not because Henson didn't prepare properly for his start against Chicago, or his pinch-hitting stint the previous week against Baltimore.

"He was as ready as he could be," Parcells said, "under the circumstances."

Parcells also deflected questions about whether he'd send either Romo or Henson to play in NFL Europe.

"That's something I'm not even thinking about right now," Romo said. "I'm preparing for the Eagles, getting ready."

Romo was asked if it's been more difficult to prepare, since he Testaverde and Henson are the only QBs to take any snaps this season. He said it's not difficult, because he doesn't feel like he's competing against Testaverde and Henson.

"For me, personally, it's not hard to get ready," Romo said, "because I compete against myself. No, I don't think it's hard to be patient. If I'm confident in my abilities, I feel like I'll be ready when I get my chance to go in."

He then put the hype around the quarterback depth chart in what he considers the proper perspective.

"I think that once in a while, you (media) guys try to dig too deep," Romo said. "We're just trying to win football games."

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