Cowboys 'Ready to Roll with Romo'

The common assumption might be that the Dallas Cowboys will cut back their offensive calls and packages, and simplify the scheme overall, in order to give new starting quarterback Tony Romo a chance to be successful in his first start this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

According to Dallas head coach Bill Parcells, that's not the plan.

"I think he can handle most of the offense," Parcells said. "He's been doing it the whole time (he has been with the team)."

The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the team while waiting for the move that many felt was coming eventually is now gone, and the Cowboys sound like they're prepared to rally around their new quarterback.

"With a mobile quarterback, I think you have a better chance," wide receiver Terrell Owens said. "It's definitely an advantage for me. Romo can move. Within my career, with the quarterbacks like that (who are mobile), I've been successful."

Owens said the change in passers has drawn a lot of attention, but added that the decision is not one that could have been made based on a desire to avoid upsetting anyone.

"It's all about winning games," he said. "There shouldn't be any hard feelings. It's not about sparing anyone's feelings."

For his part, ousted starter Drew Bledsoe has said all of the politically correct things, insisting that while he doesn't agree with the choice Parcells made, he will continue "to be a leader on this team, to support the team, and support Tony in his job."

Showing that he harbors no ill will toward the man who took his job -- and who occupies the locker right next to his own -- Bledsoe snuck around the throng of reporters who surrounded Romo in his first media address as the team's starter, and yanked off Romo's baseball cap.

"Did y'all see his new haircut?" Bledsoe asked about Romo's closely shorn buzz cut. "Looks like a blind guy on a military base did it."

Since his arrival in Dallas, Romo has had the reputation of a guy who plays and carries himself with poise that belies his youth. True to form, he showed no sign of nerves when facing the largest media contingent in his NFL career, playfully mocking reporters who asked less-than-astute questions, and spilling the clichés every quarterback must master about putting the team before his own accomplishments.

"I don't know about any 'swagger' or 'moxie' or whatever has beeen said about me," Romo said. "I just try to go about my business. Here's the thing about sports, and about life in general: I'm pretty realistic about my talents and abilities. I don't try to bullcrap anyone about what I can do. When I identify a weakness, I work to address it and get better at it."

Parcells said that Romo learned part of his approach from one of the "Parcells guys" under whom he served as an understudy.

"I think having Vinny Testaverde here was a very good experience for Tony," Parcells said. "Vinny was very meticulous about the way he went about his preparation … he always had to have his notebook there … very meticulous. (Romo) has told me more than once that he learned a lot from Vinny."

Romo said that amid the parade of quarterbacks who have ventured through Valley Ranch since his arrival (i.e. Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Bledsoe, etc.), Parcells never had to remind him to stay focused.

"He's told me to always prepare to be ready to go in, but he didn't really have to," Romo said. "I've always tried to be prepared, to study and approach each week the right way."

Romo dismissed the idea that he ever had accepted the idea that he might simply be a career backup.

"I never thought about it that way," he said. "There are plenty of guys who have come from my (undrafted) position, and there are plenty of guys who have been top draft picks. But you're still trying to play the game, to play football, trying to get the ball into the end zone."

All the preparation he has done since getting to Dallas surely will help, but Romo said he is well aware that practice and games are two entirely different things.

"You're only really going to get prepared through experience," he said, "and you only get experience on the field."

For the Cowboys, the announcement of Romo's insertion into the starting lineup brought with it, if nothing else, an element of clarity for the immediate future.

"Yesterday, I'd say, was a state of uncertainty," linebacker Bradie James said. "We didn't know what decision (Parcells) was going to make. If it lingered, it could split the locker room, and you don't want the locker room split. "Now we know what we have, and we're ready to roll with Romo."

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