EAGLES @ COWBOYS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Tony Romo back surgery | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 16
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Eagles | Friday Practice (7:55)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team continues preparation for Sunday’s game with the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Eagles (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Tony Romo IR and back surgery announcement
- Specifics of Romo’s back surgery; asked if it was related to herniated disc
- Estimation of when Romo will be able to return to team activities next season
- How the Romo injury has influenced Orton’s reps in practices all week
- Difficulty of Romo coming to grips on the necessity to have season ending surgery
- Two back surgeries in eight months a concern for the team going forward
- Did the back injury occur in last weeks game vs. Washington Redskins or earlier
- Teams plans to fill Romo’s roster spot for remaining games.
- How Romo responded to treatment attempts this week
- When was the final determination made to move forward with the surgery
- How do you prepare Romo’s teammates with the news of Romo being out indefinitely
- Was there any lingering issues from Romo’s surgical procedure earlier in the year
- How has Orton’s practices gone this week and in prior practices this season
- If Jon Kitna (Kit’s) up to speed with offense and new twists added in his absence
- What is the most difficult part of backup QBs adaption to gameday action
- Dez Bryant progress with his back injury; prognosis for upcoming game vs. Eagles
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys Kyle Orton steps in with confidence
IRVING, Texas – The preparation may not change much, but the circumstances certainly have for Kyle Orton as he prepares to make his first start for the Dallas Cowboys for the injured Tony Romo.
Orton’s taking practice reps with the first team offense for the first time this year as the Dallas Cowboys get ready for their most important game of the season in a win or go home matchup at AT&T Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17.
“Just excited, you know, just to be able to get some practice reps,” Orton said. “It felt good today, just kind of see how it plays out throughout the week, but it really doesn’t change my preparation at all. Just get the added benefit of getting some reps during the week, which was good.”
Orton, who’s been the backup in Dallas the last two years, is their go-to guy. They also added Jon Kitna for further depth.
Orton’s thrown a pass in just two games the last two years, going 3-for-5 for 40 yards against the Bears this year and going 9-for-10 with a touchdown against the Bears last year.
Prior to joining the Cowboys, he made 69 career starts in stops with the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. He said the feeling is excitement, not pressure, getting to throw to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray in this situation.
“I fall back on my experience,” Orton said. “I’ve played a lot of games in this league and I’ve had some success. Just excited. The group of guys I’ve got around me, I don’t really feel like I’ve got to go out there and do too much – get the ball to the playmakers and give it to 29 and 82 and 88 and let those guys go to work.”
Orton emphasized the importance of not trying to do too much. His plan is to get the ball out as quickly as possible to the open receiver, and he believes the Cowboys have multiple options who know how to get free and make plays.
Though Orton hasn’t worked with the first team during the regular season, he did get to work with the team’s top offensive players while Romo was out in the offseason, particularly during Organized Team Activities.
“Any time you’re a backup, all the reps you can get with the guys are important,” Orton said. I was kind of fortunate to get a lot of the reps during OTAs. That’s a long time ago, but I’ve practiced hard throughout the whole year and really feel like my game’s in a great spot right now and I’m really confident heading into the week.”
It’s beneficial for Orton that he’s had two years now to learn the playbook.
Even if his first start comes 16 games into the season, he’s confident he can step in, and the offensive linemen in front of him share that feeling. Orton complimented what the line’s been able to do, and the success of the line in recent weeks gives Orton even more confidence he can step in quickly.
“I think the whole offensive line’s played great,” Orton said. “Obviously in the run game to have a 1,000-yard rusher going into Week 17 is a great deal and what they’ve done pass pro-wise has been really good.”
Both center Travis Frederick and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau said not much will change for them and how they block, regardless of which quarterback’s behind them.
“Kyle knows the offense,” Bernadeau said. “He’s been with this system for a while. Just calling the plays in the huddle, his demeanor knowing the offense, calling the protections, making the mike points, the sight adjustments and hot adjustments that he reads, I’m very confident. I know that he knows the offense. So when we communicate and talk up front, we’re thinking what he’s thinking. It meshes real well. I have all the confidence in his ability.”
Orton said when Romo got injured late against the Redskins, he saw the situation as everyone else did.
Romo didn’t say much about the injury to his teammates as he battled out to the end of the game. Orton didn’t realize at the time what was to come based on Romo’s reaction. He complimented the starter’s ability to finish the game the way he did.
“I think Tony played a great game in Washington,” Orton said. “Obviously, dealing with what he dealt with toward the end of the game there was great stuff. I know if he can be out there playing, he’ll be out there.”
If Romo can go, Orton knows he’ll probably be relegated back to the bench. But with Romo’s playing status in serious doubt, Orton’s ready for the opportunity in front of him.
“No doubt I’m excited,” Orton said. “We’ll see how Tony heals up. He’s a great quarterback, he’s had a great year and I know he wants to finish this thing out. But as a backup, that’s your job to be ready to go whenever it is. I think the guys have got a lot of confidence in me, I know I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself, and I’m excited to play.”
THE OLE BOY IS BACK: Dallas Cowboys sign veteran Jon Kitna as emergency quarterback | Kitna donating game check to school
IRVING, Texas — In a move reminiscent of their 2010 season, the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran quarterback Jon Kitna to help offset an injury to Tony Romo.
The team made the move official Wednesday morning. Kitna rejoins the Dallas Cowboys as an emergency quarterback behind Kyle Orton.
Veteran return man Michael Spurlock, who had a 62-yard punt return in the win against the Redskins, was cut to make room for Kitna.
The Dallas Cowboys called the 41-year-old Kitna sight-unseen from his retirement as a math teacher and football coach at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., after working out several other quarterbacks on Tuesday — David Carr, Tyler Thigpen, John Skelton, and Richard Bartel.
Kitna arrived in Dallas on Tuesday night in order to undergo a physical on Christmas Morning. The Cowboys are scheduled to practice Wednesday afternoon in a schedule somewhat altered to let the players and coaches spend the morning with their families.
This will be Kitna’s second stint in Dallas. He backed up Romo from 2009-11 and started nine games in 2010 when Romo went out with a broken clavicle. He retired after the 2011 season, which paved the way for the Cowboys to sign Orton in March of 2012.
Unlike that 2010 season, Kitna would not be the starter against the Eagles, but an insurance policy for Orton. The Cowboys have only carried two quarterbacks on their roster since Alex Tanney was signed off their practice squad by Cleveland on Nov. 26.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said adding another quarterback helps the team in practices.
Kitna played 15 NFL seasons prior to his retirement. He played for Seattle from 1996-2000, Cincinnati from 2001-05, and Detroit from 2006-08 prior to joining the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys gave Orton a three-year, $10 million contract in 2012 for this exact situation.
“We’re in as good of shape under these circumstances as you possibly could be in,” Jones said. “I have every reason to think Kyle Orton could step out there and do a really good job for us. We’ve planned on that very event.”
RELATED: Dallas QB Jon Kitna to donate his game check to Lincoln High School
IRVING, Texas – Lincoln High School’s student-athletes in Tacoma, Wash., may benefit more than the Dallas Cowboys with Jon Kitna rejoining the team.
Kitna, who teaches and coaches at the school, said he’ll be donating his game check to the school’s booster program, which his wife runs.
He said he didn’t have a second thought than to give the money to the program to help out and get protein for the students. Kitna said 85 percent of the student population is below the poverty line, and his family’s dedicated itself to helping out.
“My wife runs our booster program and spends roughly $25,000 a year feeding this young men and things like that in a lot of different avenues. One of the things we committed to this year for our booster program was our first $25,000 that we raised we were going to use on protein for the young men,” Kitna said.
Kitna and his family started a foundation specifically for what he’s doing now, giving young men the opportunity to grow in school and on the field.
“Unfortunately with the market dropping, all that stuff, when things when under, the foundation did too,” Kitna said. “But it’s what my wife does. She started a booster program along with my sister. They spend about $25,000 a year just feeding the young men.
“Then for us, we feel like we have some Division-I talented young men in our program that are doing great, but they need some supplement to their diet. One of the things we’re going to do is use money that we raised, and we’ve had a lot of donations and things like that, to get protein for these young men so that their body gets what they need.”
Kitna said whether it’s his teacher’s salary – he was an algebra teacher for two years at the school – or this player’s salary, he’s dedicated to helping out the school. He previously gave his teacher’s salary to chip in before adding this money on top.
“That’s what we do,” Kitna said. “I’ve lived a great life.”
By the time the locker room opened to the media Wednesday night, Stephen McGee was gone. Whether his locker is cleared out for good remains to be seen.
McGee completed only 9 of 20 passes for 124 yards and a 65.4 passer rating in a first half of work. The Cowboys scored on three of five first-half possessions, but the Dallas Cowboys defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense in the first 30 minutes. Linebacker Orie Lemon had the play of the game, intercepting a Matt Moore pass and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown.
The Dallas Cowboys will make the decision whether to keep three quarterbacks or whether to keep only two on the 53-player roster with Rudy Carpenter, assuming he clears waivers, on the practice squad.
“I think we saw some things out of McGee tonight that were really encouraging,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on the Channel 21 halftime show. “It’s been vintage McGee. Other teams have shown interest in Stephen McGee. We know somebody thinks he’s a pretty good ballplayer. We do, too. It really depends on our 53rd guy, without McGee. If we think we can live with him, or do we think we need a third quarterback? That will be something we’ll go through tomorrow after the game, and we’ll make a decision tomorrow."
The Cowboys drafted McGee in the fourth round in 2009 knowing he would take some time to develop. He has one career regular-season start. He went 11-for-27 for 127 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 victory over the Eagles to end the 2010 season after Romo and Jon Kitna were injured.
The Cowboys have used veteran quarterbacks the last few seasons to back up Tony Romo.
Meanwhile, Stephen McGee, the kid from Texas A&M, sits and waits. And waits and waits.
At some point McGee has to make progress and challenge for the No. 2 spot at quarterback. Jon Kitna, the backup last season, battled back issues and was nearing retirement as McGee looked on from afar.
But McGee didn’t do anything in his development to force the Cowboys to not seek a veteran quarterback in the offseason. One thing the franchise likes in current backup Kyle Orton is his experience. He’s started 69 games in this league and dealt with the scrutiny of being a starter, especially in Denver last season.
McGee has struggled at times on the practice fields and sometimes it’s not his fault. He’s working with the youngest players on the team, so sometimes he tells players where to line up and what to do in the huddle. Then he’s got to complete a pass against the first-or second-team defense.
McGee doesn’t throw deep passes often in practice because of the coverage, so he dumps things off. It’s got to be hard to evaluate McGee when he does this. You could say he makes the smart decision by not throwing passes into coverage, but you would like to see him challenge defenses.
He’s got just 82 career attempts in four NFL seasons, making it hard to know what he can really do. But this summer and in the preseason, the Cowboys need to give McGee a hard, hard look.
If he can’t challenge Orton for the No. 2 spot, Rudy Carpenter, who is part of the 90-man training camp roster, should make a serious run at McGee.
If McGee or Carpenter can’t impress the offensive coaching staff, go with two quarterbacks.
It’s not the end of the world or the best option, but you want good players on your team. The time is now to see if McGee is a good fit for these Cowboys.
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee sails through the air over Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Trevard Lindley after Lindley tripped him up trying to tackle him in fourth quarter Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game action in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field January 2, 2011. McGee gained 14-yards on the play.
Jon Kitna had a talk with the Cowboys’ new backup quarterback, Kyle Orton.
That’s part of the reason the Cowboys are comfortable with the former Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos starter, who they signed to a three-year contract.
“I think he had a good visit with Jon Kitna during this process, and I think Kitna shared with him what the dynamic is with our team, with the quarterback position. I think he felt it was something that really was attractive to him,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters Thursday.
Orton, 29, is the replacement for the retired Kitna as the Cowboys’ primary backup. But Garrett said Orton understands that there will be competition for the backup job. Stephen McGee was the No. 3 quarterback last year, but he enters the final season of the contract he signed when he was drafted in the fourth round in 2008.
Whatever his role, Orton will understand it, Garrett said.
“He’s a real pro,” Garrett said. “I think he understands the situation. He’s been a starter in this league. He’s been a backup in this league. I think he understands the importance of team chemistry and chemistry within that quarterback room. … He’s been in some different quarterback situations where he’s had a different role. He’s really seemed to handle it really well. He understands that Tony is our starter, that he’s our backup, that we’re going to compete for that backup spot.”
Orton started 15 games for Chicago in 2005 and 2008 and Denver in 2009 and 13 games for Denver in 2010. His two best years were with the Broncos in 2009 and 2010. He threw for 3,802 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2009 and 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2010. But he was only 11-17 those years.
For his career, he has thrown 80 touchdown passes, 57 interceptions and is 35-34 in 71 games (69 starts).
When the Broncos released him in 2011, the Cowboys put a claim in for him, but he was awarded to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We felt like he was one of the real premier quarterbacks out there in free agency,” Garrett said. “We wanted to pursue Kyle and see where he was. He’s a guy we’ve had an eye on a long time. When I was in Miami, we had a lot of interest in him when he was coming out.”
Orton was a fourth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2005 out of Purdue.
Jon Kitna has retired, leaving the Cowboys to figure out who will backup Tony Romo next season. Do they trust Stephen McGee enough to promote him from No. 3? Do they draft a quarterback to compete with McGee? Or do they sign a veteran?
"It’s a very important position, as we all know," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "So, you want to make sure you allocate the resources necessary to that position. Jon Kitna was great for us the last three years, had a chance to play last year and played really, really well for our team and was a real leader for our team. But he’s retired now, and he’s in Seattle and enjoying life after football. So we have to make some decisions there."
McGee, 26, was a fourth-round draft pick in 2009. He enters 2012 in the last year of his rookie contract. He has started one game in his career and played in two others, completing 56.1 percent of his passes for 420 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and an 82.4 passer rating.
Vice president Stephen Jones said recently that the Cowboys would be comfortable with McGee as Romo’s backup.
"Stephen McGee has gotten some real good experience the last couple of years, playing in games, and we’ll continue to evaluate his progress going forward," Garrett said. "We like what he’s done. But it’s an important position, and we’ve got to make sure we have enough people if for no other reason than guys get hurt, and you better have a suitable guy who can go in there and play and help your team going forward. We’ll keep evaluating that spot just like all the other spots on our team."
The Cowboys have had veteran backups the past few years, with Brad Johnson in 2007 and ’08 and Kitna the past three years. Johnson was 39 when he joined the team. Kitna is 39 now.
Free-agent quarterbacks who could be signed as a backup include Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, David Carr, Charlie Batch, Shaun Hill, Sage Rosenfels, Vince Young, Derek Anderson, Rex Grossman and Brady Quinn.
LAST HURRAH: Do or die for some Dallas Cowboys, possibly Spencer, Martellus Bennett, Bradie James and Terence Newman
Sunday’s winner take all match up against the Giants has been billed as a do or die game for Cowboys.
A win puts them in the playoffs. A loss ends their season.
What’s also true is that the game could possibly be the last one in a Cowboys uniform for a number of players.
That includes 20 Cowboys who are in the final year of their contracts, including linebacker Bradie James, safety Abe Elam and tight end Martellus Bennett.
The case could be the same for a few others like Terence Newman, who is signed through 2014 but could be salary cap casualty because age, injury and declining production.
Bradie James has seen the writing on the wall since the beginning of the season when his role was diminished because of the emergence of Sean Lee. James ranks eighth in tackles with 51, ending a club record streak of leading the team in tackles the last six years.
The nine-year veteran would like to continue his career with the Cowboys but he knows nothing is guaranteed. He acknowledges that a loss on Sunday could possibly usher in wholesale changes to more than just the players who are no under contract for next season.
"It could all just change around," James said. "That is just the reality of it."
Anthony Spencer, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, is of the same mindset after what has been a disappointing season for him. The Cowboys have not engaged in talks of a contracts with the former 2006 first round pick.
"It could be that," said Spencer was asked if this could be his last game with the Cowboys. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. So I’m not worried about it. I’m just trying to get through the season."
Spencer and the Cowboys had huge expectations come into the season that he would thrive under new coordinator Rob Ryan and provide legitimate pass rushing threat opposite Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. But after getting three sacks in the first thee games, he has just three over the last 12. His six sacks on the season are a huge disappointment for him and certainly weren’t enough to prompt the Cowboys into signing him to a long-term contract extension.
"I started fast," Spencer said. " I had high hopes for more sacks. It didn’t end up that way. (Playing more coverage) had something to do with it. You can’t get sacks when you are not rushing. I want to be here. I like it here. But I got to do what’s best for my family."
Other Cowboys whose contracts expire at the end of the season are cornerback Alan Ball, guard Derrick Dockery, fullback Tony Fiammetta, defensive end Clifton Geathers, guard Montrae Holland, receivers Jesse Holley, Laurent Robinson and Kevin Ogletree, quarterback Jon Kitna, guard Daniel Loper, punter Mat McBriar, running back Sammy Morris, tackle Jeremy Parnell, cornerback Frank Walker and running back Chauncey Washington.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee (7) talks with Tony Romo after Romo was injured in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys’ backup quarterback situation will have to be addressed in the off-season. Jon Kitna, 39, is expected to retire. Even after Saturday night, the question remains: Do the Cowboys trust Stephen McGee enough for him to be Tony Romo’s primary backup in 2012?
"I saw some things out of Stephen tonight that were impressive," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He has made great strides in his instinct, made great strides with feel. I think that’s going to show real soon. He’s got a good arm. I am not sure where we are. We want to keep Kitna for as long as he’s healthy. It was not realistic to think that was there. Where we are with our backup quarterback is Stephen, and that’s how we’ll finish the season."
McGee had an opportunity, as he did to close out the 2010 season, to show he’s ready. McGee, a third-year pro who was a fourth-round draft pick, went 24-of-38 for 182 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and an 83.4 passer rating. The Cowboys didn’t score until 7 seconds remained, getting a 4-yard pass from McGee to Miles Austin to avoid their first home shutout since 1991.
"It was up and down at times,” McGee said. “We moved the ball all right, and we had our chances. It just felt like we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and miscues on offense, miscommunication-type deals. We definitely could have executed a lot better. We’ll go back to the video and throw this one in the trash and be ready to go for New York.”
McGee played in two games last season, including a start against the Eagles in the 2010 regular-season finale. He started this season as the No. 3 quarterback, but a back injury forced Kitna onto injured reserve Dec. 14. McGee now is the team’s only backup on the 53-player roster.
“It took me a little bit to get back in the rhythm of things,” McGee said. “It’s been since I guess the Miami game [in the preseason] that I’ve been out there in live action at all. I haven’t had any reps this year with the offense at all. It took me a little bit of time to get comfortable. …But I felt a lot more comfortable that I did this time last year, for sure.”
Time finally has run out on Jon Kitna. His season has ended on injured reserve, and his career could be finished, too.
Kitna has had a back injury that has kept him out the past four weeks. Dallas had hoped that he would return before the end of the season.
Kitna, 39, had contemplated retirement before this season. He returned to finish the final year of his contract, but his family stayed back home in Washington. In his 15 seasons, Kitna has passed for 29,745 yards and 169 touchdowns.
The Cowboys replaced him on the roster with rookie receiver Dwayne Harris. Harris began the season on the active roster, returning three kickoffs for a 24.7 average and 11 punts for a 6.6 average. The Cowboys cut him Oct. 18 and re-signed him to the practice squad.
Dallas also signed Chris Greisen to the practice squad, giving them a third quarterback for practice. Greisen spent the final week of the 2010 season on the 53-player roster.
The Cowboys began a walkthrough practice Tuesday at Valley Ranch without four of the players hurt in Sunday night’s game against the Giants. Cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder) and defensive back Danny McCray (shoulder) were among those who missed the start of the walkthrough. Nose tackles Josh Brent (knee) and Jay Ratliff (back) attended practice, watching from the sideline, as did guard Kyle Kosier (foot) and center Phil Costa (concussion), among others.
Quarterback Jon Kitna remained out with the back problem that has sidelined him since the Nov. 13 game against Buffalo.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that he was confident that Costa would play Saturday against the Bucs.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and receiver Laurent Robinson practiced again Friday, so they’re likely to be ready to play Sunday night against the New York Giants. Ware had a neck stinger in last week’s game, and Robinson had a shoulder injury. Both sat out Wednesday’s practice but returned Thursday.
Again missing practice were quarterback Jon Kitna (back), tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs), defensive back Danny McCray (ankle), running back Phillip Tanner (hamstring) and nose tackle Josh Brent (knee).
Safety Abe Elam missed practice to be at his father’s funeral in Florida. He also missed practice, but he is expected to play Sunday.
DeMarcus Ware joins The Fan for his weekly show.
The Cowboys got Miles Austin back in practice on Wednesday as they start getting ready for Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants with the NFC East lead on the line.
But two other starters sat out the start of practice, and right tackle Tyron Smith came out with a wrap on his right hand. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and wide receiver Laurent Robinson stayed in. Both were hurt in the game against Arizona. Ware suffered a neck stinger in the fourth quarter, and Robinson had a hurt shoulder. Both returned to the game.
Also missing the start of practice were tight end Martellus Bennett, who left the Arizona game because of a rib injury, special teams ace Danny McCray, backup quarterback Jon Kitna and running back Phillip Tanner.
For Austin, it’s his first practice since he hurt his hamstring against Seattle on Nov. 6. He has missed four games since then. He also missed two games earlier in the year with a hamstring injury in the other leg.
Smith, the Cowboys’ No. 1 pick, has played in every game. He hyperextended his right knee in practice before the season opener.
The Dallas Cowboys have ruled receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), nose tackle Josh Brent (knee), fullback Tony Fiammetta (illness), quarterback Jon Kitna (back) and running back Phillip Tanner (hamstring) out of Sunday’s game against Arizona. None of the five practiced this week.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring), right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (foot) were limited in practice Friday. Although they are listed as questionable on the injury report, all three are expected to play.
Linebacker Bruce Carter (knee), linebacker Sean Lee (wrist) and punter Mat McBriar (left foot) were full participants in practice and are probable.
The Cowboys returned to the practice field after a three-day break following last Thursday’s Thanksgiving win.
Among those practicing included cornerback Mike Jenkins, who has four straight games with a hamstring injury he sustained Oct. 30 in Philadelphia. Jenkins is expected to play this week in Arizona and resume his starting duties at right cornerback.
However, wide receiver Miles Austin didn’t participate in the walk-through practice, but was working with the athletic trainers on the cords, a sign that a return to action is close.
Fullback Tony Fiammetta, who has missed two games with an illness and concussion-like symptoms, did not practice Monday, but was on the field talking to the training staff.
Quarterback Jon Kitna (back) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh were not on the field, nor was defensive tackle Josh Brent, who was in the weight room during practice.
Since Monday is not a typical practice day, the Cowboys are not required to provide an official injury report until Wednesday.
Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones speaks with a young fan before Thursday’s game.
IRVING, Texas — The return status of injured backup quarterback Jon Kitna (back) and starting fullback Tony Fiammetta (illness) this season is uncertain right now, team owner/GM Jerry Jones told reporters after Thursday’s win over Miami.
“Both those guys are not definitive in any way medically,” Jones said. “Kitna has some back issues that we’re going to be watching. We do have concern and that’s one of the reasons we made that claim (for veteran quarterback Kyle Orton).”
Orton was claimed Friday by the Chiefs, who had a higher waiver priority due to a worse record. Kitna and Fiammetta have each missed the last two games, and Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM that he didn’t expect either to be available Dec. 4 at Arizona.
Kitna’s back flared up briefly in preseason but has become ” a tick more severe” this time, head coach Jason Garrett said earlier this week. Stephen McGee backed up Tony Romo against Washington and Miami. It’s possible that the team continues looking for quarterback depth.
The team has been trying to determine the origin of Fiammetta’s symptoms, which include nausea when he exercises. He has been around the Valley Ranch facility but has been physically unable to practice, Garrett said.
Elsewhere on the roster, Jones said Friday that wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) was questionable to return at Arizona but it’s looking positive for cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring). Jenkins has missed the entire four-game win streak, while Austin has sat the last three games.
Jason Garrett speaks to the Dallas media. Team has already begun preparations for the Dolphins on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh suffered a foot injury against the Washington Redskins and was seen at the team’s headquarters on Monday wearing a walking boot. Sensabaugh is not expected to practice this week but he said he plans on trying to play against the Miami Dolphins Thursday. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Sensabaugh has played through some injuries in the past and the team was hopeful that he could play despite such a short turnaround this. If Sensabaugh can’t go, look for Barry Church to replace him in the starting lineup.
Due to the short week, quarterback Jon Kitna is expected to miss his second straight game with a sore back, according to coach Jason Garrett. Former Texas A&M star Stephen McGee the primary backup for starter Tony Romo on Thanksgiving Day against the Dolphins.
RELATED: Fullback Tony Fiammetta remains sidelined with unknown illness
Fullback Tony Fiammetta is likely to miss his second straight game with an unknown illness, delivering another setback to the Cowboys running game.
Fiammetta was considered a key to the team’s running success of late and the emergence of rookie DeMarco Murray, who has 601 yards in the four games prior to Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory against the Dolphins.
Murray had just 73 yards on 25 carries with backup tight end John Phillips as the primary lead blocker against the Redskins. Coach Jason Garrett said Phillips did a credible job but he also couldn’t deny the difference Fiammetta makes when he is in the game as a true fullback.
The puzzling thing for the Cowboys is that they don’t know what’s exactly wrong with Phillips who has been held out of practice since last week. His symptoms include nausea and sickness when he is working out, Garrett said.
“We do not have an idea,” Garrett said. “He’s been sick the last week or so, so we are just kind of attending to those symptoms as much as anything else. We are hopeful he can be around as soon as possible, but we will continue to test him to see how he’s doing to get him back to full strength. ”
Asked the origin of the illness, Garrett said the doctors and trainers were stumped. He said the team’s entire medical staff as well as specialists have been consulted.
“We are just evaluating the origin of the illness – without getting into too many details about what the different possibilities,” Garrett said. “We are just trying to look at it and see why he is feeling sick…just trying to get to the bottom of it.”
Garrett said right now there is no timetable for his return, athough the Cowboys are hopeful it’s soon.
“We are treating him like any other injury that we have, trying to get to the bottom of what happened, what we should do about it and hopefully we can get him back sooner rather than later,” Garrett said.
The odds are good that third-string quarterback Stephen McGee will be active this week. Jon Kitna missed his second consecutive practice with a bad back.
It gave McGee two days of work with the scout team. Normally, the third-string quarterback works with the scout team only on Thursdays.
“I’m ready for whatever situation occurs, and that’s my role,” McGee said Friday. “I’m just going to continue to try to get ready as much as I can emotionally, and certainly mentally, and be ready to go in case Kitna can’t.”
McGee has been active on game day only three times this season. Two came in the games immediately after Tony Romo fractured a rib and punctured a lung in a Week 2 victory over the 49ers. McGee has not appeared in a game this season.
“It’s life in the NFL as a backup quarterback,” McGee said. “Opportunities are random. You never know when they’re going to come, how they’re going to come, what the situation is, where it’s going to be. You’ve just got to always go about your business the same way. Your approach has got to be the same. I think if you do that, then when it does happen, you’re as best ready as you can be.”
McGee played against the Cardinals last season after Romo was lost for the season and Kitna was injured during the game. McGee then started the season finale against the Eagles. He completed 22 of 44 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns in those two outings.
The Cowboys had only three changes to their injury report from Wednesday: Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) returned to practice Thursday and was limited; fullback Tony Fiammetta (illness) was limited Wednesday but missed all of practice Thursday; and backup quarterback Jon Kitna (back) missed practice Thursday.
Left guard Montrae Holland (illness) was off the injury report. He said Thursday he was feeling fine.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) haven’t practiced this week and are not expected to play again this week.
RELATED: Thursday Practice Report
The Dallas Cowboys had a few changes at Thursday’s practice at Valley Ranch as they prepare for Sunday’s game in Washington.
·After missing practice on Wednesday, both starting guards were back on the field Thursday. Left guard Montrae Holland (flu) and right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) were practicing in full participation.
·QB Jon Kitna was not at practice and the official Thursday injury report has yet to be announced. Kitna hasn’t been on the injury report all season. He did miss some time in training camp with a back injury.
·FB Tony Fiammetta missed his second practice with flu-like symptoms as well.
·WR Miles Austin and CB Mike Jenkins didn’t practice again with hamstring injuries. It’s unlikely they will play or even make the trip this weekend in Washington.
·LB Sean Lee wore his bulky club-wrap around his left hand/wrist again. He tried an open cast on Wednesday but went back to the heavy wrap and will likely play that way in Sunday’s game.
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys have cut punter Chris Jones from the practice squad and re-signed defensive lineman Robert Calloway, but that should not be viewed as a sign Mat McBriar will be ready for Sunday’s game vs. Seattle.
McBriar is dealing with a nerve issue in his left foot, which first flared up two days before the Cowboys played St. Louis. He punted without trouble against the Rams but could make it through only a half against Philadelphia. He averaged 38.7 yards on three punts before being replaced by kicker Dan Bailey.
McBriar wore a bulky brace that ran up his calf but he was limping noticeably. He has seen specialists this week, but it could be a case of waiting for the nerves to re-fire.
If McBriar is unable to punt, the Cowboys would likely re-sign Jones, who was with the team in training camp. He averaged 37 yards per punt in the preseason and struggled in the Blue-White scrimmage.
McBriar’s absence would also affect Bailey, because the Pro Bowl punter is also the holder.
While there are veterans punters available, Chris Jones worked as Bailey’s holder for most of training camp. Tony Romo served as Bailey’s holder on a point-after attempt against the Eagles. Coach Jason Garrett said last week Jon Kitna would be an option, but Kitna has not served in that role in his career.
If Chris Jones is needed but McBriar’s injury is not one that would end his season, then it could set up the unusual circumstance of the Cowboys having four kickers on the 53-man roster and just three tailbacks with Bailey, Chris Jones, McBriar and David Buehler. The only tailbacks currently on the roster are DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner and Felix Jones.