No decision on Romo for Cowboys' preseason opener

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — Jason Garrett was a little bewildered by getting grilled a week early over whether Tony Romo would play

in the Dallas Cowboys' preseason opener.

The Dallas coach dodged questions on the topic Saturday, a day after the team's flagship radio station quoted Garrett as saying

the Hall of Fame game against Miami next Sunday was "not going to be Tony's game."

Pressed several times by reporters, about all Garrett would say was the coaching staff hadn't decided the playing rotation.

"I don't want to get into the hypotheticals," Garrett said flatly when asked about the comments to the radio station. "We'll

talk about how each of our 90 players will or will not play in those games next week."

The Cowboys have an extra preseason game, and Garrett suggested to the radio station that the starters were more likely to

debut in the second game against Oakland.

Even if Romo plays, it will only be a handful of snaps. His most important preseason game is the fourth one this year — Aug.

24 against Cincinnati.

But Romo just signed the richest contract in

franchise history — six years, $108 million with $55 million

guaranteed, or $3

million more than Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco got from Baltimore.

And Romo didn't take a real snap the entire offseason after

having a cyst removed from his back.

Thus the varying questions for Garrett on

what he hopes to get out of the preseason and how many games are ideal

for the starters.

"Well, we have five, and so what we're going

to do is try to get our players ready as best we can with those five

preseason

games," Garrett said. "The balance is to get your team ready, your

starters ready, evaluate your young guys — that's a really

important thing so you cut your team down the right way. And

obviously avoiding injuries is an important part of the preseason."

Health isn't an issue for Romo, who didn't

talk to reporters while leaving the field after Saturday's early

practice. Garrett

has acknowledged that Romo "wasn't quite himself" when training

camp opened a week ago, but said the quarterback has progressed

well.

"You know, he hasn't been in this environment in a little while," Garrett said recently. "We've monitored his throwing a little

bit in the individual periods. But he's responded well to everything and he's getting better every day."

Garrett had four preseason games each of his

two previous training camps as coach. If he considers that the ideal

number for

starters — he wouldn't say — the Cowboys could hold the first

teams out of the game against the Dolphins and play them briefly

in the last exhibition against Houston on Aug. 29.

"We think it benefits us to be out here a

few days earlier, and we certainly think it benefits us and the players

on our football

team, particularly the young guys to evaluate them in an extra

preseason game," Garrett said.

If the starters sit against Miami, at least one of them won't exactly be thrilled. Safety Barry Church hasn't played since

tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 3 last year.

Plus, the Cowboys are implementing the 4-3 defense after nearly a decade with three linemen and four linebackers. There's

still plenty to learn.

"If it was only two series out there, I

would love to play two series," Church said. "The first couple of

practices out here,

I was so anxious, I was hitting my own teammates and that's not a

good thing. I'm very anxious to get back on the field and

looking forward to getting back out there, especially for the Hall

of Fame game."

NOTES: WR Dez Bryant didn't practice

Saturday with minor hip soreness, and his status for Sunday's first

scrimmage was unknown.

... WR Cole Beasley sat out with a sore knee. ... DE Ben Bass has a

sprained ankle and could be out a few days. The Cowboys

are down to their fourth option at left defensive end. That was

Cameron Sheffield in Saturday's early session.