Thursday, December 10, 2009
Updated: December 11, 12:35 PM ET
Romo: 'I'd prefer not to' hold
By Tim MacMahon
IRVING, Texas -- It was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's idea to resume holding duties after a layoff of almost three years. That doesn't mean he's thrilled about it.
"I'd prefer not to do it, I think, for obvious reasons," Romo said Thursday. "Pops told me one time, 'Leadership is doing what has to be done.' "
The most obvious reason is the miserable experience Romo had the last time he was the Cowboys' holder. He botched a hold on a short field goal that would have given Dallas the lead late in a January 2007 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Yet Romo approached special teams coach Joe DeCamillis on the plane ride Sunday night after the NFC East co-leaders' loss to the New York Giants and offered his services as holder. Punter Mat McBriar was struggling in the role, contributing to kicker Nick Folk's poor production.
Folk has missed eight of 24 field goals this season -- one more miss than his previous two seasons combined. McBriar took the blame for three of the misses, including a clutch 42-yard shank early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss.
Romo worked as holder during Wednesday's practice for the first time since the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season. All indications are that the franchise quarterback will fill that role Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
"To me, that just shows what a competitor he is and how much he wants to help our team win," said DeCamillis, who described Romo as an upright target who is natural with his hands. "He had a bad experience, and he really wants to help us out and help us win games. That's a real pro."
Romo acknowledged that the botched hold in Seattle three seasons ago has been on his mind this week.
"When you're coming back to doing something, and something like that happened in the past, you have to be mentally strong and mentally feel as though you can do something at a high level," Romo said. "If I felt like I'm going to suck, I wouldn't be offering up to help in that situation. Hopefully I'm going to be pretty good. If I'm not, I'm not going to be doing it very long or at all."
Backup quarterback Brad Johnson served as Dallas' holder the last two seasons, but he was released in the offseason. McBriar won a training camp competition against Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and David Buehler by default but was never comfortable as a holder.
Romo has a week of practice to find his bearings with Folk.
"He's pretty good at it," Folk said, "so it shouldn't be too big of a transition."
The Cowboys, tied with the Eagles at 8-4 in the division, are fighting for a playoff berth. They can't afford their field goal woes to continue. That's why Romo volunteered to help.
"When you're the quarterback of a football team, really all that matters is winning," Romo said. "I think that was the point. We need to continue to get better in certain areas.
"We're always talking about improvement and figuring out ways to get better as a team. This is another thing, hopefully, that can help us continue to improve. The bottom line is figuring out a way to win football games. If this helps us do that, I'm going to do it."
Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.