Romo's mind on Giants, not how surgically repaired back responds to short week that follows

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IRVING, Texas — Tony Romo will play the New York Giants on Sunday night, then figure out if his surgically repaired back can hold up for the quick Thanksgiving turnaround.

Trying to decide this week what plan will work for next week is premature — the same label he gave to a question about how good a year he's having while leading the Cowboys (7-3) in his eighth full season as the starter.

"I said in training camp what I thought I was going to be able to do over the course of my career," said Romo, hinting at the 34-year-old quarterback's July comment that "you'll see the best version of me" in the next several years. "You've just got to go out and do it."

Romo's done it so far, even with another back injury tacked on against Washington. He sustained two small fractures when he was sacked and later returned to the game.

After missing a loss to Arizona, Romo flew across the Atlantic and had a 138.8 passer rating in a 31-17 win over Jacksonville in London.

Now he's had the bye week, which the history of his latest injury says should be a big boost in the recovery, and has the Cowboys poised to end a four-year playoff drought as they start the finishing stretch at the Giants (3-7).

"This week it's not about thinking about next week at all," Romo said. "You've got to get yourself ready to play in this one game against the Giants."

Romo threw three interceptions in the first half of his return from December back surgery in a loss to San Francisco in the opener. He has just three in eight games since. He's second to Aaron Rodgers in passer rating — while on pace for a career best — and second to Drew Brees in completion percentage.

With 18 touchdown passes, Romo is nowhere near the league lead because he has NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray with 1,233 yards and seven scores. And the emphasis on the running game under Scott Linehan, Romo's third play caller in three seasons, is one of the reasons coach Jason Garrett thinks Romo is having "a really good year."

"Any of the evolutional part of our offense has been positive," Garrett said. "He's embraced that. Obviously, we're a better offensive unit around him. We're better on the offensive line. We're running the ball better. All of those things are good. But he's had a huge part in orchestrating all of that."

How big a part was illustrated in the loss to the Cardinals, by far the worst offensive output of the season for the Cowboys. It was Murray's only game with fewer than 100 yards rushing, and backup Brandon Weeden couldn't make Arizona pay in the passing game.

The Arizona loss is also why there are so many questions about how Romo will manage two games in five days and three games in 12, because the Cowboys struggled without him.

Dallas plays NFC East co-leader Philadelphia on Thanksgiving, followed by a trip to Chicago for another Thursday game. Romo has skipped the Wednesday workout all season — he did it again this week, even after a bye — so the question of a short week is a big one.

"Right now, I have a full week plus the bye from last week to be able to get yourself ready and that was big," Romo said. "I think after the game against New York, we'll reassess everything. But that's not on my mind right now."

Romo's back issues aren't much on the mind of Giants coach Tom Coughlin either.

"No," he said when asked if Romo looks like a quarterback having back problems. "The 138 quarterback rating in the last game will do that for you."

NOTES: Romo and CB Tyler Patmon (knee) were the only players to miss practice Wednesday. LB Rolando McClain, who was active but didn't play against the Jaguars with a knee injury, worked out.


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