If it’s a question of tolerating pain, Tony Romo said he will play Sunday against the Cardinals — and history supports him on that point.
The issue in the 34-year-old Cowboys quarterback’s mind is whether he can run the offense while dealing with his third back injury in 18 months. He said Wednesday he doesn’t know, which goes to owner Jerry Jones’s point that it could be a game-time decision against the Cardinals.
Romo said the injury that sidelined him for about a quarter before he returned late in regulation of Monday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins was ‘‘more than a contusion,’’ referring to coach Jason Garrett’s description. He wouldn’t be more specific about the damage from a direct hit to his surgically repaired back on a third-quarter sack by linebacker Keenan Robinson.
The latest injury isn’t related to the herniated disk Romo played through without leaving the game in a come-from-behind win at Washington before surgery five days later last December. And Jones offered that it has nothing to do with the cyst Romo had removed from his back in April 2013, sidelining him the entire offseason last year.
All in all, Romo said he ‘‘dodged a bullet.’’
‘‘Any time someone’s had back surgery you’re always a little bit nervous when you get hit in a specific instance like that,’’ Romo said. ‘‘The positive is it’s completely unrelated to the disk or anything that could be long term, per se. So that part of if, yeah, that’s a positive. As far as feeling great, I feel like that’s a negative. But I think that will come.’’
Romo has said the pain he endured last year in Washington was worse than a 2011 game in San Francisco, where he slipped past doctors in the locker room and led a comeback win with cracked ribs and a punctured lung. He even played the next week, beating the Redskins.
‘‘I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody who has a tougher will, his mind, and it helps him tremendously with pain threshold,’’ Jones said. ‘‘Combination of those two things, he’s as tough-minded and physically tough a player as I've ever been around.’’
And that’s why Romo said pain won’t have much to do with the decision.
‘‘It will be about your ability to be productive in some fashion,’’ Romo said. ‘‘That part of it we will continue to evaluate.’’
Brandon Weeden led the Cowboys (6-2) to points on both possessions that Romo missed, and he will start against the Cardinals (6-1) if Romo can’t play. That would also mean undrafted rookie Dustin Vaughan would be activated from the practice squad for the first time.
In other Cowboys news, defensive tackle Josh Brent returned to the practice field for the first time since his drunken-driving crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown in 2012.
Brent did light work on the side, the first day he was eligible to practice because of NFL restrictions related to his 10-game suspension over an intoxication manslaughter conviction.
Cardinals’ Peterson cleared
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has cleared concussion protocols and will likely play against the Cowboys. Peterson was injured in the second quarter against the Eagles last Sunday when he collided with teammate Deone Bucannon and Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin. Peterson lay on the field for several minutes before woozily walking off and into the locker room. He did not return to the game. Cardinals running back Stepfan Taylor will not play against Dallas after suffering a calf injury against the Eagles . . . Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith practiced Wednesday despite spraining his throwing shoulder in last weekend’s victory over the Rams. Smith landed on his right shoulder shortly before halftime. He received treatment in the locker room and played the entire second half, complaining only later of a bit of soreness. The Chiefs host the Jets Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
RGIII to start for Redskins
Robert Griffin III is expected to start at QB for the Redskins according to reports on NBC4 in Washington and ESPN. Griffin hasn’t played since dislocating his left ankle in Week 2. Backup Colt McCoy led Washington to an OT win over the Cowboys Monday night . . . Michael Vick told said he’s excited to start at QB for the 1-7 Jets. ‘‘When you have a chance to go out and show and prove, I think you've got to take advantage of the opportunity,’’ Vick said. “So just having this chance to become a starter again is almost like a dream come true.’’ . . . Bengals Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove a particle of cartilage that could have caused more damage if left untreated. He is expected to miss two games . . . The Jaguars placed starting cornerback Alan Ball on season-ending injured reserve with a biceps injury . . . The Giants signed cornerback Mike Harris off the Lions’ practice squad and placed middle linebacker Jon Beason (foot surgery) on season-ending IR . . . The Seahawks signed veteran fullback Will Tukuafu and linebacker L.J. Fort . . . Pete Carroll called it an ‘‘amazing experience’’ for the Seahawks to host the football team from Marysville-Pilchuck High less than a week after a shooting at the school left three students dead, including the shooter. The high school team practiced at the Seahawks’ facility Tuesday.