Coach says Romo not ready

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 PM ET

The Dallas Cowboys have four things going for them this NFL season: Tony Romo, a spanking new stadium, the Super Bowl party — and first dibs on the panic button.

While the team is expecting to be Super Bowl contenders it hasn’t showed in a sloppy pre-season. No offence. No defence. No intensity. That has been the story of the Cowboys through four games that included losses to the Raiders and a 23-7 debacle against Houston.

It’s so bad that coach Wade Phillips is considering playing his regulars in the final exhibition even though it could risk injury — and the team already has five starters missing. “We’re not ready for prime time yet,” Phillips, who has never before played his regulars in a final exhibiton contest, told NFL.com. “If the players aren’t ready to play for the first regular-season game, then I need to get them ready.”

Romo has led the starters to only one TD in four games.

Marion Barber was supposed to challenge Felix Jones for the start at running back. But the offensive line has been horrid and Barber ran the ball four times against Houston and lost two yards. Jones had a blistering six yards of offence.

This is a team that has shown no running game at all. The top two running backs have now gained 44 yards between them in four preseason games. Barber has 12 carries for 23 yards and Jones has nine carries for 21 yards.

The offensive line couldn’t blow a hole through bubble gum.

And, if someone is looking for a bright spot on defence, get out the magnifying glass. The Texans rushed for 173 yards, including 110 by Arian Foster, and Houston quarterback Matt Schaub completed 18 of 29 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Andre Johnson caught a 24-yard touchdown pass when he was wide open behind the defence.

”If we didn’t have such a veteran team,” said owner Jerry Jones, “I’d be more concerned than I am.”

This is now a team that has won one playoff game in the past 10 years so that could mean a lot of things — including the fact that they’ve got a lot of guys who’ve learned how to lose.

Although I’m guessing that isn’t what Jones has in mind.

Meantime, there’s word that rookie receiver Dez Bryant could play Thursday against the Dolphins. Good idea. He’s just coming back from an ankle injury and isn’t throwing a gold-chip rookie — supposedly the franchise’s future star — in front of a bunch of wolves looking for one last chance to somehow prove they deserve to be a back-up in Miami this year a bad idea?

Nah. It’s just a practice game. What could go wrong?


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