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Romo now a student of game

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THE namesake of the phrase coined by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn't interested in helping define it.

Peyton Manning danced around questions last week about Jones' comment of wanting Tony Romo to put in "Peyton Manning-type time on the job. As Manning's Denver Broncos prepared to play Romo's Cowboys today, Manning made it clear he wants to continue his solid standing in the "NFL Quarterback Club."

"Look, every quarterback that is starting in this league multiple years puts in time," Manning said in a conference call with the Cowboys media. "You just don't keep your starting job. I feel like I do what I need to do to get ready to play. But any quarterback who is a starter year after year, I promise you they're putting the work in at the facility on their own. Otherwise, it shows up, and you lose your job."

Manning, whose work ethic is legendary, told reporters this summer he took Jones' remark as a "flattering comment." Romo took it that way, too.

During the NFL Draft, a month after Romo signed a six-year, $108 million contract extension, Jones said, "If Tony, for instance, would be here Monday through Saturday from 7 in the morning to 6 o'clock at night all over this place, then that's better than the way it's been. We'll have more success, and Jason (Garrett) believes that. It's certainly at quarterback but he believes it at the other positions.

"Tony is going to have more time, more presence, not only in the off-season but when the season starts. ... He's going to have more time on the job. A part of what we agreed with was extra time on the job, beyond the norm."

Jones didn't say it quite the way he meant it, later explaining he wasn't criticizing Romo's work ethic but instead empowering his quarterback. The Cowboys requested Romo become more invested in the offence.

"You can go talk to Jerry and ask him what he meant exactly, but when we communicated all the different times, it was having played the position for an extended period of time as a quarterback in the NFL, you learn through experiences, and you understand what things can help a football team and what are more difficult," Romo said last week.

"One of the great traits, if you watch some of the Broncos stuff, they do a great job of being aggressive and being simple. They've done that for a long time, and Peyton does a great job of getting them into certain things. I think you want to incorporate things like that into your offensive system."

Romo's increased involvement began in the off-season. He studied the offences of Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He met with the Cowboys' offensive coaches, giving them ideas and concepts. He viewed tape of draft prospects, including Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams, before the Cowboys' selections.

Romo became so heavily involved during off-season workouts, when he was rehabbing from surgery to remove a cyst from his back, that teammates jokingly called him "Coach Romo."

The Cowboys call Romo's bigger role a part of the natural maturation of a quarterback. Romo is in his 11th season, his eighth as the full-time starter, and Sunday marks his 102nd career start, including the post-season.

"I think Tony's always been involved," Cowboys offensive co-ordinator Bill Callahan said. "It's just at a different level now. He has input in what goes on, and obviously into the offense as a whole, and rightfully so."

Romo's work week begins Monday with film study of the upcoming opponent. He takes notes, and by early Tuesday afternoon, his ideas are in the hands of quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. Coaches have the base game plan to the quarterbacks by early Tuesday night. Late in the week, Romo helps script the first 15 plays.


-- Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2013 B12

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