If not Kyle Orton, who will back up Romo?

May, 23, 2014
May 23
3:00
PM ET
Backup quarterback Kyle Orton is thinking of retirement, that is pretty clear.

The Dallas Cowboys expect that he will return for the mandatory minicamp which starts June 17.

Hanie
Weeden
If Orton doesn't play this season, the ramifications run deep. Tony Romo, despite saying he will play a 16-game season, is recovering from back surgery. Though the surgery was deemed a success and things are going well with his recovery, there are no guarantees he will survive the season.

The Cowboys have the confidence Romo will start the season on time.

Backing him up could be a major issue if Orton is gone.

The favorites to support Romo are Brandon Weeden, he of a 5-15 career record in two seasons with Cleveland, and Caleb Hanie, who had an 0-4 mark with the Chicago Bears.

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"You can tell they’ve been in training camps before, been on teams before, the way they carry themselves," quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said of Weeden and Hanie. "They understand concepts, they understand defenses and they have a veteran presence about them, and they can throw the ball extremely well."

Weeden is the more experienced of the two and seems more suited to play the No. 2 man behind Romo.

"He's been in professional sports whether its baseball or football, he has a confidence in him, an air about him that he knows what he’s doing," Wilson said.

It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys keep two quarterbacks on the active roster and one on the practice squad. Dustin Vaughan from West Texas A&M is the favorite to be on the practice squad entering the 2014 season.

The wild card isn't Orton, it's about Romo and his health.

The Cowboys believe Romo should be okay for the 2014 season, but you never know about back injuries and whether they will flair up again. Romo was dealing with back issues during the 2013 season and was limping in practice the week of the second Washington game.

It was during that game that he suffered his season-ending injury.

Having a quality backup eases the fears the Cowboys might have if they lose Romo.

If Orton is gone, it means Weeden or Hanie might have an important role during the 2014 season.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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