IRVING, Texas (AP) While Tony Romo is done for this season after breaking his collarbone for the second time this year, the struggling Dallas Cowboys somehow still have a chance to defend their NFC East title and get to the playoffs.
Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that Romo has a lot of football left to play in the future. But so do the Cowboys this season without the quarterback, and part of the message the coach has for his Cowboys (3-8) is that they still have a chance in the division race.
''It's part of our message to provide perspective,'' Garrett said. ''Oftentimes you have to provide a perspective about where we are, where we are, where we want to go and how we want to do it. So that certainly will be part of the message when the players come back in.''
Dallas has five games left and is two games behind Washington and New York, both 5-6 after the Redskins beat the Giants on Sunday.
The Cowboys play next Monday night at Washington, giving them an extended break after playing Thanksgiving Day. They host the Redskins in their regular season finale Jan. 3, and have already split their two games with the Giants.
Romo will not have surgery after getting hurt again in their loss to undefeated Carolina in the Cowboys' traditional holiday game. But Garrett believes the collarbone will heal and that the 35-year-old quarterback still has plenty of games left to play.
''We think Tony has a lot of football left in him. ... He's got a lot of football ahead of him,'' Garrett said. ''Tony's a great competitor, Tony wants to play as much as anybody, wants to play at a high level and help our team.''
For now, Romo will stay involved with the team and connected with quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore.
The Cowboys are 0-7 this season without Romo, including four games started by midseason acquisition Cassel during Romo's first absence after Brandon Weeden lost three. Weeden was released when Romo returned, and Garrett anticipates Moore being brought up from the practice squad to be Cassel's backup.
''One of the things I thought (Romo) did a really good job of when Brandon was playing and when Matt was playing earlier in the year was just staying involved and staying engaged,'' Garrett said. ''But at the same time you've got to go let those guys go take charge of the football team and understand what that balance is. I thought he did a good job understanding that day to day and certainly on Sundays.''
Garrett believes Cassel's experience with the Cowboys in those earlier four games will benefit him the second time in the starter's role.
''He came in, had to learn quickly, had to learn during the season,'' Garrett said. ''So there's a lot of things you're kind of catching up on when you come into a football team at that position at that time.''
Notes: Garrett is optimistic about cornerback Morris Claiborne returning against the Redskins. Claiborne missed the last two games because of hamstring and ankle injuries. ... Running back Trey Williams was waived.
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