Tony Romo return based on Jon Kitna

Updated: December 10, 2010, 4:20 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones is optimistic that quarterback Tony Romo will be ready to play by Christmas, but Romo's health won't be the only factor considered on whether he plays again this season.

Once Romo is cleared medically to return from a broken left collarbone, the Cowboys' front office and coaching staff will determine whether the team has a better chance to win by playing its franchise quarterback or 38-year-old backup Jon Kitna.

"I want to do anything we can to win the game. Everything," said Jones, whose team is not in playoff contention with a 4-8 record. "Pull no stops out to win the ball game. It would be based on that, giving us the best chance to win.

"Now you say well surely, if he's your starting quarterback he gives you the best chance. Well, it would have to do with knocking some of the rust off, too. He shouldn't, it would surprise me, for him to come out and be as sharp as he would have been if he had been playing in all the games."

Romo broke his non-throwing collarbone in the Oct. 25 loss to the New York Giants and said Sunday he is still feeling discomfort. However, he has been throwing for a few weeks and has recently intensified his cardiovascular workouts to prepare to return, possibly for the Christmas game at Arizona.

However, the Cowboys have won three of four games under interim coach Jason Garrett with Kitna excelling at quarterback. Kitna has a 107.9 passer rating in those games, having thrown for seven touchdowns, rushed for another and committed only two turnovers during the 3-1 run.

"Now you're getting into the nuances of what your thoughts are of what are the best ways to win, a guy who has been winning all of the games and is really into the flow of things or a player we think is our starter coming in but a little bit rusty," Jones said. "That is a very legitimate exercise right there and we will be going through that.''

There is not the potential for a long-term quarterback controversy to develop with the Cowboys. There is no doubt that three-time Pro Bowler Romo, if healthy, will be the starting quarterback next season.

In other injury news, running back Marion Barber has been ruled out for the second consecutive week due to a strained left calf. Jones said he does not know when Barber will be ready to play again, but the team is not considering putting the veteran back on injured reserve at this point.

Linebacker Keith Brooking (sprained left foot) went through practice for the first time this week on Friday and said he will play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles although he remains in a walking boot.

"It feels better at this point than last week," said Brooking, who is listed as probable on the injury report. "That's all I can ask for."

Brooking has played in 156 straight games, which is tied for the second-longest streak in the NFL among defensive players. But that is not why he wants to play.

"It's not like we're talking about Brett Favre," Brooking said. "My streak if it's broken will be forgotten the next day. It doesn't mean anything. Honestly it doesn't."

Brooking's backup, Sean Lee, also pronounced himself good to go for Sunday and is listed as probable. He practiced Friday. Lee will wear extra padding to protect his left shoulder, which he injured last week at Indianapolis.

Linebacker Bradie James took part in a full practice Friday and is also listed as probable. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick (concussion) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (quadriceps) took part in full and limited portions of practice Friday, respectively. Scandrick is probable and Sensabaugh is questionable.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter. ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer also contributed to this report.

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