Dallas Cowboys put Tony Romo on IR
Romo has been out since suffering a fractured left collarbone in the second quarter of an Oct. 25 loss to the New York Giants. He was given a recovery time of six to eight weeks but discomfort remains, and he does not have full range of motion or strength.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones had hoped Romo would be able to return this season but acknowledged after Sunday's win against Washington that it was doubtful.
"When you just start doing the math on it and say, 'Where is he with this injury? Where is he physically functioning? Where is he being able to take a hit? And then, how much practice time you need to have any player be ready to play in a game?'" interim coach Jason Garrett said. "We just felt when we factored all those things together, it just made sense to make this move."
It seemed silly for the Cowboys to take any chances since they can't make the playoffs and are guaranteed a losing record, though they kept the option open by carrying Romo on the active roster the past eight weeks. Garrett said having this weekend as a target for a return helped Romo with his recovery.
Jon Kitna has a 4-4 record as Romo's backup and has thrown for 2,250 yards with 15 touchdown and 10 interceptions. He has a 91.4 passer rating.
"Our team has certainly responded to him," Garrett said. "He's a very driven guy. He loves to play football. He's very competitive. He'll look at the positive things and build on them and try to correct some of the things he doesn't like. It's an ongoing process. He embraces it every day."
There's no threat of a quarterback controversy because Kitna will be 39 next season and Romo remains the face of the franchise. Kitna knows the drill.
"I signed a contract to be the backup to Tony and that's my job," he said. "I'm supposed to play as well as I can if I get a chance to play. We've been consistent the last six weeks. That's what you want."
Kitna didn't take a single snap last season and lost all four games he started for Detroit the previous season. So while this has been hailed as a career revival, Kitna doesn't see it that way.
"Honestly, it's not that satisfying for me because I knew that this was who I was," he said. "What's exciting to me is that I got to be in a place that the guys around me make my job very easy."
The Cowboys were 1-5 in Romo's six starts. He finishes the season with 1,605 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had a 94.9 passer rating.
"I think if you look at the body of work, him individually and how our offense functioned, there were a lot of good things but there were obviously some areas to improve upon," Garrett said.
Romo has spent every game on the sideline, wearing a headset and consulting with Kitna. He'll continue doing that.
"He's played in this offense more than anybody has, so he has a real understanding of what we're trying to get accomplished," Garrett said. "He and Jon have a really great relationship. ... There are some productive things that go on during the game and Tony is a big part of that."
The Cowboys signed wide receiver Teddy Williams off their practice squad to fill Romo's spot on the 53-man roster. Garrett said injured players do not usually travel with the team, but Romo will continue to do so for games at Arizona and the season finale at Philadelphia.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
NFL WEEK 16 PREVIEW