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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Romo sidesteps T.O. questions


Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

CARROLLTON, Texas -- One by one, Cowboys players such as DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Marion Barber made their way to a team bus following Tuesday's first session of organized training activities. Only one or two reporters broke away from the pack to acknowledge those players. But a group of about 35 reporters waited for quarterback Tony Romo to make an appearance.

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And after one softball question, everyone started firing away about locker room chemistry and Romo's thoughts on Terrell Owens' release. It was the first time he'd spoken publicly since the Cowboys' 44-6 loss to the Eagles in the final week of the season.

Romo proved to be as elusive as ever regarding T.O. Asked for his thoughts on T.O.'s release, Romo said, "That's not up to any of us players to decide. That's why we're players. The organization and management decides those things. We're all at risk every offseason, depending upon everything. You always want to go out there and try to have all the guys you play with every year. That just doesn't happen. We have to go with the guys we have here now, go forward and keep improving."

When I asked Romo whether he had contacted T.O. since his release, he said he wanted to keep that private. I'm not sure why, but he did eventually say of T.O.: "You miss seeing the guy every day."

Romo was also asked whether he thought the rest of the receiving corps could make up for T.O.'s production.

"It's going to figure itself out. Either you're going to be able to or not. He's a great player and it's always difficult to replace someone who's had the success and been that dominant player he's been over the years. But guys have to step up and pick up the slack. Guys are working hard, I know that. Whether they're going to do it, we're going to find out this year. But I definitely have confidence in the young guys to step up and perform."

Not satisfied with Romo's response, a reporter wanted to know if the atmosphere was more "relaxed" with T.O. gone.

"No. It's the National Football League," Romo said with a hint of frustration. "If you're relaxed, then you're probably at the end of your career and you don't care either way. So relaxed is a bad word. If you're not hungry, then you're in the wrong place to make a living and to play and compete."

Good answer. Romo can't win by coming out and saying something like, "Yeah, it's like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.'" That would've caused bigger headlines but it would not have helped his cause.

In other news, Sam Hurd looked like the best receiver on the field Tuesday. He made some tough catches along the sideline and he brought a ton of energy to the practice. Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin both dropped balls, but Austin recovered to make a couple of contested catches on deep balls. It's obvious that he has elite athletic ability. Now we'll see how consistent he can be.

Roy Williams looks like he has added muscle to his frame and he made some really nifty catches with defenders hanging on his arms. He also switched to his college number (4) for one session. I used to see him play at Texas quite a bit, so it brought back memories -- mostly painful.

I'll have more on this later, but rookie safety DeAngelo Smith out of Cincinnati was very impressive. A lot of players were slipping on the field at Standridge Stadium (temporary home), but Smith showed the ability to cut on a dime. And the Cowboys' defensive backs made a lot of plays on the ball. Jon Kitna and Romo both made a lot of good throws, but you can tell the timing's completely off with the receivers at this point. That's usually part of the process early in OTAs.

Here's are some really astute observations from Dallas Morning News blogger Tim MacMahon.