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Tony Romo’s return has become a great Dallas Cowboys mystery

Injured quarterback Tony Romo did not practice the team this week and coach Jason Garrett can’t promise he will be ready to practice when the Dallas Cowboys return from this week’s bye to start preparing for the Oct. 30 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The scenario essentially rules him out of the returning against the Eagles, though the Cowboys refuse to acknowledge as much.

If he doesn’t practice next week, there is little chance he would be ready for the Nov. 6 game against the Cleveland Browns the following week, considering his elongated absence.

Look for rookie Dak Prescott, who has led the Cowboys to a 5-1 record in Romo’s absence, to continue to start at quarterback for the near future.

That seems logical, but that’s getting ahead of things, per the Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who is simply choosing to take Romo’s return from a fractured bone in his back on a day-to-day, week-by-week scenario.

“We’re going to take Tony’s situation day by day and we’ll take all the players who are injured, we’ll take all their situations day by day as well,” Garrett said Wednesday, when specifically asked if Romo should be ruled out of the Eagles game. “Tony needs to have a good day today and he’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully continue to progress.”

Garrett said there is no timeline on when Romo will be cleared for practice, but he is doing more with his rehab every day. While the rest of the team takes the next four days off, Romo will use the bye week to continue his rehab.

“He has been throwing the ball the last week or so and that’s been a good thing for him,” Garrett said. “He’s working on healing up and he’s working on redeveloping the strength in his core which has been so critical for him coming off the back surgery the last couple of years.

“It’s just a day by day thing. The injury is still healing. Every report we’ve got about the healing process has been positive. He’s making strides. He’s working on his overall conditioning, the conditioning of his core and he’s getting himself back to being able to play football again.”

Garrett has seen Romo throw while rehabbing, but says the intensity level is not yet up to game standards.

Garrett also refused to speculate on how much time Romo would need in practice before he would be ready to start a game.

“Again, that’s hypothetical,” Garrett said. “We’re really just focused on what he needs to do.”

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan repeated Garrett’s shunning of hypothetical situations when asked if he has allowed himself to look ahead to Romo’s return. Linehan said there is no point because the Cowboys don’t know when Romo will be available.

“We’ll be crossing that bridge at some point, we just don’t know when that will be,” said Linehan, who talked to Romo on Tuesday. “He is starting to eye the early future. When that will be has a lot to do with how Tony is responding to his rehab in coming back.”

Linehan said the notion of Romo returning, whenever it happens, is not something he or anyone on the Cowboys dread in fear of having to make a decision at quarterback. They just have to get him back to practice first.

“I look at it more like it’s going to be a huge asset for us than anything, when that day comes,” Linehan said.

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