Romo confident he can play Saturday night, despite his sore back

IRVING, Texas -- Considering that Tony Romo finished the last game with his sore back, the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback doesn't anticipate any problem being ready for the next game -- even in a shortened week.

"If I've been able to do it once already, I can't imagine it ever being worse than that," Romo said Thursday. "I did it last week, so if that's the worst that it gets, I should be able to play either way."

Romo said he'll be ready Saturday night when Dallas plays its Texas Stadium regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Tony Romo practiced (Thursday) and felt a lot better," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "It looks good for him for Saturday."

Romo was in obvious pain after taking a hard shot to the back during the first half of Sunday night's game against the New York Giants, but he finished the game. He went through most of Wednesday's practice despite being stiff and sore and said before practicing again Thursday that his back was feeling progressively better.

"Obviously, I prefer not to play like that, but it happened and in the game, and you have to suck it up and do what you have to do," Romo said. "If it continues to progress the way it is, then I feel, hopefully it won't feel too bad Saturday night."

Running back Marion Barber didn't practice Thursday and is again considered a game-time decision, like he was one week ago when he had only 2 yards on eight carries. Barber has been hampered by a broken pinkie toe that forced him to miss a game.

"We just have to see again game day on him as far as being able to play," Phillips said.

The Cowboys (9-5) are still in a precarious playoff position. They now have the NFC's top wild-card seed but have games remaining against the Ravens (9-5) and at the playoff-hopeful Philadelphia Eagles (8-5-1).

When Romo missed three games earlier this season because of a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, the Cowboys went 1-2 and didn't score more than 14 points in any of those games.

Tight end Jason Witten believes Romo will be ready to go and able to play without any limits.

"As the week goes on, he'll be fine," Witten said. "All I know is his back was stiff. He really hasn't said much about it."

Witten, selected this week to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl, hasn't missed a game this season despite several ailments: a broken rib, sprained ankle, separated shoulder and a bruised chest.

"He's a tough guy," Romo said. "It's funny -- you don't want to ever take him for granted, but you assume he will always be out there, and he's going to be there. We've been very fortunate and lucky a guy like him hasn't had to sit out a number of games. That's a testament to him."

Now Romo is being a tough guy. He doesn't plan to wear any extra protection for his back Saturday night, even though he knows he's likely to be hit often by Baltimore's standout defense.

"It's going to hurt, but it doesn't usually feel good when you get hit. I'll be fine," Romo said. "I throw it to the guy who is open, and hopefully good stuff happens."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press?

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