FRISCO, Texas — Dez Bryant should be ready to return from a knee injury when Dallas comes back from the bye for a key game against Philadelphia in the suddenly difficult NFC East.
When the Eagles visit on Oct. 30, the Cowboys will be that much closer to having to decide whether Tony Romo gets his job back from Dak Prescott, the rookie quarterback with a five-game winning streak.
Of course, Dallas has this touchy subject because of a surge to the second-best record in the NFC entirely without Romo, sidelined by a preseason back injury, and minus 2014 All-Pro receiver Bryant for three games.
And, yes, coach Jason Garrett considers it a touchy subject.
“Does this microphone work?” a somewhat exasperated Garrett asked Monday when he’d had enough of the questions about Romo, prompting laughter as reporters got the hint.
The Cowboys (5-1) are winning the same way they did in 2014, when they also dropped the season opener at home and won the next six on the way to the NFC East title at 12-4. Dallas is getting efficient play at quarterback and dominating the running game, which is helping an opportunistic defense.
But instead of Romo and 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, it’s a pair of rookies in Prescott and league rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott. And a team with plenty of other young players has back-to-back wins over perennial playoff teams in Cincinnati and Green Bay.
“I’m surprised that we’re playing as well as we’ve played,” owner Jerry Jones said after a 30-16 win over the Packers , just the second ever for Dallas in Green Bay. “We just want to keep this thing going forward, knowing in the NFL that the wheels could come off at any minute.”
If the wheels don’t come off, Garrett will eventually have to answer questions about Romo vs. Prescott.
Garrett said he didn’t anticipate the 36-year-old Romo for the only practice this week on Wednesday, which means the earliest Dallas’ 10-year starter could practice would be four days before the Philadelphia game. In that case, the Nov. 6 visit to Cleveland is a more likely potential return date.
If the Cowboys beat the Eagles and another standout rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, the pro-Prescott chorus will grow.
Since Friday, that chorus has grown to include four prominent names in Cowboys lore: Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Jimmy Johnson.
The reasoning is mostly the same from each: In the NFL, you don’t mess with momentum.
“I’d hate to end up here with two winning quarterbacks and a tough decision as to who is going to win the game,” Jones said with a wink. “I think what we do is enjoy how we’re seeing Dak progress. I have comfort in the fact that every time Romo throws a football it’s got more velocity on it. That’s a good spot to be in.”
Bryant returned to practice last week and wanted to play against the Packers, but doctors ruled otherwise.
Assuming he returns against the Eagles, it will be five weeks since he sustained a hairline fracture in a bone in his right knee against Chicago. Bryant returned to the game after getting hurt and had his only touchdown of the season.
Garrett happily addressed questions about Bryant. Romo, not so much.
“We don’t deal a whole lot in hypotheticals,” Garrett said. “What we try to do is we try to focus on what’s in front of us right now and do the best job we can as players and coaches. Tony has done a really good job with his rehab, and he’s getting better and better every day.”
The question won’t be hypothetical much longer.
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler