With turnover-free rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys are already in better shape than they were without Tony Romo in the early part of last season.
First of all, they already have a win.
There is also the hope with the way Prescott has already progressed in two games to believe there could be more wins while Romo continues to heal from that broken bone in his back.
''Now we're two weeks into this, so we have to understand that. I think he improved from Week 1 to Week 2, I think he learned from some of the experiences in the opener, and I think he improved over the course of practice and throughout the game in Washington,'' coach Jason Garrett said Monday.
''He approaches it the right way, it starts with that. His intangibles are excellent, his preparation, his poise, his composure, all of that stuff gives him a chance to play well.''
After winning 27-23 at Washington, when Prescott helped direct a late go-ahead drive, the Cowboys (1-1) are back home Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.
Then before the bye week in late October, there are three more games against teams that have already lost games this season - San Francisco, Cincinnati and Green Bay.
Romo did make the trip with the Cowboys to Washington, a positive sign that his back was well enough to travel without any problems.
He even threw a few passes on the field before the game and got an exam from team doctors in which owner Jerry Jones said the 36-year-old quarterback ''looked good.''
But that is no indication of an immediately pending return for Romo.
''He's in that stage right now,'' Jones said. ''Hopefully, soon, he'll be out of the danger stage relative to his spine, probably 2-3 more weeks and we can see how far he wants to go by his own volition.''
When the Cowboys opted against putting Romo on injured reserve, they allowed the possibility that he could play before Nov. 6, which would have been the earliest he could have played if on that list. Their bye week is Oct. 23, a week after playing at the Packers and a week before playing Philadelphia.
It sure doesn't sound as if any continued success by Prescott would make the Cowboys more patient in waiting for Romo to return the lineup.
''Not necessarily. Not necessarily,'' Jones said. ''Tony's situation when he's back will be about whether he's functional. We're a better team. We play better (with Romo).''
At the same time, Jones said the Cowboys ''are not only playing winning football with Dak, we're developing him.''
The Cowboys were off to a 2-0 start last season before Romo missed seven games because of a broken collarbone - and lost them all.
Prescott has already set an NFL rookie record with 75 pass attempts without throwing an interception, breaking a mark previously held by Hall of Famer Warren Moon.
''We don't really get caught up in records. He's just handled himself well. He's prepared for the opportunities he gets,'' Garrett said. ''You can tell he's started a lot of games, and understands the ebb and flow of the game, and doesn't force things.''
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this report.
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