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Cowboys' Romo back throwing passes after collarbone injury

IRVING, Texas -- Since breaking his left collarbone, Tony Romo has done all the prescribed rehabilitation work and kept the rest of his body in shape. He goes to all meetings and watches games from the sideline.

And Monday, five weeks after he was hurt, Romo was back on the Dallas Cowboys practice field throwing passes. They were only soft tosses during warm-ups, but it shows progress and his desire to return.

"The mindset we have as an organization is to get him as healthy as we can as quickly as we can," interim coach Jason Garrett said. "He has his mindset to come back as quickly as he can."

Romo broke his left collarbone on Oct. 25. The target date for a return has been the second-to-last game, Dec. 25 at Arizona. Based on that, he would miss three more games: at Indianapolis on Sunday, then home games against Philadelphia and Washington.

Dallas already is 3-8 and guaranteed not to have a winning record, so it could be pointless to risk further injury to such an important player.

"I don't want to get into a hypothetical," Garrett said. "We will make those decisions when we cross that bridge."

The Cowboys have made a return possible by not putting Romo on injured reserve. The injury did not require surgery, just rest and rehab.

"We have to make a medical decision," Garrett said. "How is he doing? Is that thing really healing up? Can he play in an NFL game here? ... It's a serious injury for everybody, but particularly if you are trying to play quarterback in the NFL. You've got to make sure that thing healed right."

The Cowboys were 1-6 coming out of the game during which Romo was injured. Backup Jon Kitna has gone 2-2 and put up remarkably similar numbers. Rookie Dez Bryant has become a bigger part of the offense and running back Felix Jones has become the main ball carrier.

The biggest change is that Garrett was promoted from offensive coordinator. Dallas has been playing much better in his three-game stint, and Romo may feel like he's missing out on the fun.

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"He is engaged with our football team," Garrett said. "He is in the training room getting his stuff done. But he is in meetings and really been involved. He has certainly been involved in the preparation leading up to a game and on the sideline during a game. That's an important part. He is one of the real leaders on our football team. So it's an important time for him even though he is not on the field."

Romo has lobbed balls on the field before each of the past two games, but this was the first time he was seen throwing to teammates during the portion of practice open to media.

Running back Marion Barber missed practice Monday because of a strained calf. He was hurt during a loss to New Orleans on Thanksgiving.

"It'll be a day to day thing," Garrett said. "We'll just see how he responds as we go."

Barber remains the starter, although Jones has surpassed him as the primary ball carrier. If Barber is out, Jones likely would start and Tashard Choice would back him up Sunday at Indianapolis.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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