SAN ANTONIO — Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys’ starting offense handled every situation just fine against Rob Ryan’s defense.
Of course, the new defensive coordinator is still in the early stages of installing his scheme. And Romo is very familiar with the offense, even after missing the final 10 games last season because of a broken collarbone.
Romo completed 14 of 20 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns Sunday when Dallas coach Jason Garrett put his starting and backup units in red zone and end-of-game situations.
“We missed a couple of little deals, but it was good work,” Ryan said. “Obviously, you have to execute. Those are the most important situations in football. It wasn’t the greatest start, but we got in a lot of good work. We’ll be fine. … Did we like giving up points? No, but that’s the way it is when you are playing a great offense.”
The first three times Romo was on the field, the offense got the ball 25 yards from the end zone.
There was a 20-yard gain on a short pass from Romo to Felix Jones before the first possession ended on a 24-yard field goal by David Buehler, who was later wide left on a 40-yard try.
Romo’s group immediately got another chance, and on the first play he threw a quick out to Dez Bryant. The second-year receiver caught the ball near the left sideline and weaved through defenders for a 25-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, running back Lonyae Miller caught a swing pass for an 8-yard score after Romo had overthrown an open Bryant in the end zone.
Garrett also set up a scenario in which the Cowboys had the ball at their own 31 down by six points with 2 minutes left.
Romo hit 9 of 12 passes on the 69-yard drive, including a 3-yard TD to tight end Jason Witten on what would have been the last snap of the game.
“The most telling thing that we saw today is that you put a lot of different information in on a daily basis, then when you step back a week and a half into camp and you go into a competitive situations and lot of that stuff is alive, both offensively and defensively, you see how players can process it,” Garrett said. “I think today, for the most part, was good work for everybody, good physical work and good mental and situational work.”
The scrimmage-like situation, void of full tackling with the starting units, came on the 10th day the Cowboys were on the field during training camp. And it came only four days before the preseason opener at home against Denver on Thursday night.
Ryan took some blame for making a few calls that his defenders hadn’t worked on too much.
“I dusted off a couple of calls that we haven’t worked on for a while,” Ryan said. “I did what I do. It’s all my fault.”
Jones, unquestionably the No. 1 running back with Marion Barber gone and Tashard Choice injured, had a 13-yard run to start one drive, along with his big gains on short passes. On the last pass Romo threw, Jones caught a short pass in the right flat and was near the sideline when he suddenly cut inside and avoided Bradie James for what turned into a 31-yard gain.
James liked to see how the running backs were doing their job, and also knows the defense is still early in the process of learning Ryan’s scheme.
“There’s a lot of things we still have to learn,” James said. “We haven’t even made it to the preseason game yet. You know it’s a lot of things we have to work out, and we have to iron out defensively these wrinkles. … Rob was throwing out a lot of stuff, and that’s how he does. He throws out a lot of stuff, and you’ve just got to respond.”
Notes: Garrett invited the family of players and staff to practice Sunday and a picnic on the field afterward. Players had the night off to spend time with their families. … The Cowboys will practice as scheduled Monday and Tuesday. The new collective bargaining agreement calls for a 24-hour break for players each week. Garrett said with the upcoming Thursday night preseason game, the players’ off period will be from when they break camp from the Alamodome on Wednesday, until they meet up again for the game.
NFL NOTEBOOK: Eagles coach Andy Reid was ignoring reports Sunday that wide receiver DeSean Jackson would end his holdout and report to training camp Monday, as various media outlets have indicated. “We’ll see,” Reid said. “I haven’t really focused on that. I haven’t talked to him. If he’s here, more power to him. If he’s not, like I told you before, my focus is to make sure that I get the guys that are here coached up.” Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler, will earn $565,000 this season, the last on his four-year rookie deal. If he does not report by Tuesday, he stands to lose a year of service time toward free agency. He caught 47 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns last year, and his 22.5 yard-per-catch average was best in the NFL. He also averaged 11.6 yards on 20 punt returns, including a 65-yarder for a touchdown that beat the Giants on the last play of a Dec. 19 game in the Meadowlands. Philadelphia’s other starting wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, is in camp but unable to practice because of an undisclosed illness. Reid said Maclin is still undergoing tests, and would not speculate when he might return. He had previously said that he expected to have Maclin in time for the Sept. 11 season opener in St. Louis. Maclin led the Eagles with 70 receptions last year. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the team’s biggest free agent signing, was among those who did not practice Sunday because of what Reid described as upper-leg inflammation. Defensive end Trent Cole also sat out because of elbow bursitis. Neither condition is believed to be serious. The Eagles continue to be without starting defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who had a seizure during drills on Wednesday. No timetable has been set for his return. Offensive tackle Winston Justice (knee) has missed all of training camp, and defensive tackle Trevor Laws is out with a hip injury.