Todd Archer reports that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will miss organized team activities this week and could be out until training camp because of surgery he had last month to remove a cyst from his back. The Cowboys don't believe this to be a serious problem that threatens Romo's availability for the season, but his absence from this portion of the offseason calendar is not completely without significance:
In the past Romo has used the offseason to tinker with his mechanics from altering his footwork to how he holds the ball. He has used the OTAs and mini-camp as a test for how the changes would hold up under pressure and if he would continue with the changes.
With Romo on the sideline, Kyle Orton will work with the first-team offense. Signed as a free agent last year Orton saw action in only one game last year. Nick Stephens and undrafted rookie Dalton Williams will receive more work in Romo's absence.
Mechanical tinkering is one thing, but another thing to consider is the Cowboys' plan to involve Romo more in game planning and play calling this season as part of his new, $108 million contract extension. Surely the surgery won't keep him from sitting in meeting rooms and working on that part of installing the offense, but it will keep him from practicing putting it into action. The rest of the players on offense can practice fine with the veteran Orton throwing them the ball, but if Dallas is changing things about the way plays are called and implemented on offense, then any missed practice time is a missed opportunity for the starting quarterback.
The good thing for Romo and the Cowboys is that this happened so far in advance of the season, and that their training camp starts quite early this year and includes an extra game. So assuming Romo is back in time for training camp, he'll get more practice time in game conditions than he would in a normal year. As of now, it appears the Cowboys are trying to be careful with him and not make the back problem any worse than it has to be. This is the time of year to be careful.