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Tony Romo set for familiar offseason path

IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in three offseasons, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be recovering from a surgery.

In 2014, he had a discectomy performed on his lower back that kept him out of the entire offseason. This offseason, Romo is planning to have a plate inserted to secure his left collarbone, sources told ESPN Insider Ed Werder. In addition, Romo is expected to have a portion of the collarbone shaved down.

Unlike 2014, however, Romo is expected to be healthy for the bulk of the offseason program.

Last Saturday Romo said he would be "ready to rock" for the organized team activities. By Romo's timeline, that puts him back on the field in May.

Romo turns 36 in April, which has many wondering how much longer he can play at a high level, although Romo and the team aren't too worried.

Romo seemed to trigger his inner Matthew McConaughey when he spoke Saturday at the re-opening of Bowlmor Dallas in Addison, Texas. Romo would have been the youngest quarterback in the conference championships behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer on Sunday had the Cowboys made it that far.

"The joke is -- and I've said it before -- as everyone else is getting older, I'm getting younger," said Romo, who turns 36 in April. "You just go out and do it and prove it and I think next year you'll see a little bit different Dallas Cowboys team."

Romo has viewed his collarbone injuries -- three times it has been fractured since 2010 -- as a nuisance rather than something career threatening.

"I'll be able to play for a while," Romo said. "It's really just about playing. If I play I'm going to play at a certain level. I know that. I just have to do the things to ensure that I'll be out on the field."

Two offseasons ago, Romo had real concerns about his future because of the back surgeries even if at the time he put a brave face on his return.

"When you go through the back troubles early on and have surgery you don't know how it's going to come out," Romo said. "But it's come out. I'm seeing a very strong side to it now where I'm able to do things I wasn't able to do even last year."

In 15 games in 2014, Romo completed 69.9 percent of his passes and had 34 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. The Cowboys went 12-4, won the NFC East and a playoff game.

Romo missed 12 games in 2015 because of the collarbone injuries. The impending surgery is expected to make the area more secure. He broke it first in 2010, missed 10 games and did not have surgery. He broke it in Weeks 2 and 12 in 2015 and did not have immediate surgery.

The recent delay has allowed the bone to heal more so that the plate will allow for more strength to the area. Is it foolproof? No, but it can't hurt.

"My back is not going to keep me out," Romo said. "That was a struggle a couple years ago where I thought that. That part is getting less and less every month that goes by. I think the collarbone was a freak thing and that happens. But I think we're going to do things that will probably allow us to make sure that doesn't happen again. The fact that I can work the way I'm working now is exciting."