Romo first-class priority as Cowboys go to London
IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo's back was the top priority for the Dallas Cowboys on their long plane ride to London.
Even higher than the comfort of owner Jerry Jones' wife.
''Gene will sit up in the bulkhead,'' Jones joked a day before Monday's flight. ''Romo will lounge on the way over. You don't think it'd be me, do you?''
Assuming Romo's third back injury in 18 months makes it through the nine-hour flight no worse for the wear, the next question will be how much preparation time he can handle.
Romo missed practice all last week and watched Sunday while backup Brandon Weeden failed to get Dallas into the end zone until a 28-17 loss to Arizona was out of reach.
The Cowboys were scheduled to land in London on Tuesday morning, hoping to get into their routine as much as possible ahead of Sunday's game against Jacksonville.
So far this season, that plan has been meetings and a short walk-through Tuesday, and regular practices Wednesday through Friday.
Romo has skipped Wednesday workouts since the regular season started after surgery for a herniated disk last December. The latest injury is two fractures of small bones in the back, and others with the same injury have missed one game.
''Absolutely,'' coach Jason Garrett said Monday when asked if he thought Romo could play. ''Feel better today and get through the flight, feel good when he gets over there and we'll take it day by day this week.''
The Cowboys looked like they missed Romo against the Cardinals, who stacked the line of scrimmage and ended DeMarco Murray's record streak of eight straight 100-yard games to start the season, holding him to 79 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Weeden didn't make the league's worst pass defense pay for it, repeatedly misfiring to Dez Bryant and others before throwing his first interception with Dallas in scoring range in the third quarter and his second to end any hopes of a comeback in the fourth.
''I think Romo could have probably been expected to get to those second, third and fourth receivers,'' Jones said. ''I would have liked for him to be able to get some third and fourth options in there because we had them. That would have made a big difference out there, but again, that's a lot to expect from a guy in his situation.''
Weeden is 31, but was making just his 21st NFL start because he spent five years playing minor league baseball. He replaced Kyle Orton as Romo's backup when Orton thought about retiring, which prompted his release before he signed with Buffalo. Orton is starting for the Bills now.
The Cowboys were pleased with Weeden through the preseason, and in relief when he led scoring drives on the only two possessions Romo missed after getting hurt against Washington a week ago.
But in his first start, he looked a lot like the quarterback who was run out of Cleveland just two years after the Browns drafted him in the first round, with a career record of 5-15 and more interceptions than touchdowns. Garrett said he still thinks he has a backup who can win.
''I thought Brandon did a really good job when he came into the game the other night against Washington,'' Garrett said. ''But for the most part we didn't do what we needed to do in the passing game throughout the game yesterday. We've got to build on some of the good things that did happen.''
Weeden and Bryant were on the same team at Oklahoma State, but didn't play together much. Bryant had joined the Cowboys before Weeden became the starter.
Weeden sure was looking for Bryant, targeting him 10 times. And yet Bryant's 56-game streak with at least one catch was in jeopardy before two meaningless grabs in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-yard touchdown.
''Without question I missed (Romo), but I believe in Weeden too,'' said Bryant, who had a season-low 15 yards receiving. ''We've got to go back to the drawing board and try to fix what we need to fix.''
NOTES: LB Rolando McClain and DT Tyrone Crawford had MRIs on their injured knees Monday, but were expected to make the trip. ... DE Lavar Edwards replaced FB Nikita Whitlock on the practice squad.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler