By Mathew Postins
The Dallas Cowboys (8-7) host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Wednesday marks the traditional start to the NFL work week. So here are the five Cowboys stories to watch this week leading up to the game:
Tony Romo. In case you’re one of the few that hasn’t heard the news, Romo has a back injury – reportedly a herniated disk – that will keep him out of Sunday’s game with the Eagles. Now, the Cowboys want you to believe that there’s a chance Romo could play, and for all we know there is a chance. But those who have reported that Romo is done for the year are standing by their story. So Jason Garrett’s press conferences on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be mandatory viewing for Cowboys fans and media folks alike, even though we’ll get the usual dose of “day-to-day.” The injury report will be a much better barometer of whether Romo plays or not. On Wednesday Romo did not work out.
Kyle Orton. He’s everyone’s new favorite backup quarterback. But will he be the next Jon Kitna or the next Stephen McGee? Good question. Yes, Orton has experience. But he hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since the Denver Broncos replaced him with that Tim Tebow chap in 2011. Expect plenty of questions about whether Orton is up to the task and what adjustments the Cowboys might have to make to accommodate Orton’s more limited skill set.
Sean Lee. Published reports about Lee’s status flew well under the radar when the news of Tony Romo’s injury flew around the Internet on Monday afternoon. But ESPN reported on Monday that Lee is doubtful for Sunday’s game because he’s still not medically cleared to play. Jerry Jones actually confirmed that Lee has not been cleared during his Tuesday radio show. Lee is working out and running, according to head coach Jason Garrett, but there’s no indication that he’ll hit the field to practice this week. Once again, the Cowboys injury report is mandatory reading to get a gauge on Lee’s status for Sunday night. Oh, and by the way, Lee still leads the Cowboys in interceptions with four.
Nick Foles. Don’t count on seeing the Foles Cowboys fans saw in October when he went just 11-of-29 for 80 yards and a concussion. Since that game Foles has been red-hot, throwing 19 touchdowns against 2 interceptions, along with a pair of 400-yard passing games in seven games. Plus, he’s completed at least 60 percent of his passes in all but one of his starts since the Cowboys game. Foles is not the quarterback everyone thought would be a great fit for Chip Kelly’s system when he came to Philadelphia, but it appears Kelly has made alterations to his playbook that seem to fit Foles like a glove. He’s responded with some of the best quarterbacking in the second half of the NFL season.
Will there be changes to the coaching staff? Before last week’s game all the talk was no playoffs, no Garrett for 2014. But does Romo’s injury, should he not play on Sunday night, change the calculus on Jerry Jones’ thinking yet again? Will a loss cement Garrett’s status for 2014 one way or the other? Will it do the same for his coaching staff? Or will they get a free pass because Romo isn’t on the field on Sunday night? Look for some reporters to try and answer that question in advance of Sunday’s game.