IRVING, Texas -- Defensive end Marcus Spears lounged on a couch in the middle of the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, his right leg draped over the side. Quarterback Tony Romo wasn't anywhere to be seen.
Romo wasn't in the locker room when it was open to reporters Monday, when the Cowboys began preparing for a quick turnaround in part by trying to stay off their feet, like Spears. But coach Wade Phillips said he is confident the quarterback will be ready to play Thursday despite the soreness from taking a knee to the back.
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"We've already talked to Tony, and he says he feels a lot better. ... He had a little bit of stiffness," said Phillips, who added that there are no plans to rest Romo. "He had quite a bit during the ballgame but says he feels a lot better. Not if he's ready to play. And we think he will be."
With just three days between their 7-6 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday and kickoff against the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving Day, the NFC East-leading Cowboys (7-3) will work more mentally than physically. That alone will help Romo recover.
Romo was hurt when he took a knee to the middle of the back just seven minutes into the game. He took it while making what was possibly a touchdown-saving tackle on Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was returning a fumble after Cowboys running back Marion Barber lost the ball near the Washington 10-yard line.
Romo didn't miss a snap and later completed seven consecutive passes on the game-winning drive, the last a 10-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton with 2:41 left. Romo had just eight completions before that drive.
Dallas was averaging 27 points per game before that.
"If it's five weeks, that's one thing. It's two weeks," Phillips said. "We had a long drive early and we gave up the football, we missed a field goal. We left 10 points out there pretty quick. ... I think things are correctible."
"Hopefully, it will get better," said Crayton, whose only catch Sunday was the touchdown. "All you can do is keep working at it."
As for Romo, he received a shot for his pain after the game Sunday, when he walked gingerly but said then that he "definitely will be playing" against the Raiders (3-7).
"Certainly he was affected by getting kicked or hit in the back," Phillips said. "He really came through at the end. Whatever it was, he showed enough grit at the end to overcome it. That was impressive."
"I've gone past the game. I'm thinking of Oakland and all those things," Phillips said. "It's not a typical Monday obviously."
Phillips said workouts were at a "more walkthrough tempo" and that it would be similar Tuesday.
The Cowboys will have an extended weekend off after playing the Raiders before heading into December, when Dallas has faltered in recent years. There was the 1-3 mark last December, when the Cowboys missed the playoffs by one game, one year after going 2-2 down the stretch after a 11-1 start before losing its only postseason game.
The Cowboys begin this December at the New York Giants, then play their only home game of the month against the AFC West-leading San Diego Chargers. Then come trips to the undefeated New Orleans Saints and the rival Redskins before finishing the regular season at home Jan. 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We know we've got to start picking it up. Not just for our fans, but for ourselves too," Crayton said. "It's going to be good for us to come out Thursday and be sharp and be crisp. It's got to look like we are really doing something out there."
Notes: The Cowboys released KR Allen Rossum on Monday, four weeks after he injured his hamstring the only time that he touched the ball for the team. The Cowboys signed the Dallas native to handle kickoff and punt returns before the Oct. 25 game against the Atlanta Falcons, but he became expendable when Patrick Crayton returned a punt for a touchdown in back-to-back games. ... CB Cletis Gordon was signed to take Rossum's roster spot.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press