- Associated Press - Thursday, August 26, 2010

OXNARD, CALIF. (AP) - Jon Kitna has looked pretty good this preseason, especially for a quarterback pushing 37.

Then again, he’s well rested.

Tony Romo took every snap for the Dallas Cowboys last season, the only NFL quarterback to do so. That made Kitna the only second-stringer stuck on the sideline every week.

But Kitna didn’t just watch and wait. He put his down time to good use.

Having absorbed 129 sacks the previous three seasons with Detroit, he spent the fall getting over lingering bumps and bruises. He became more familiar with the playbook and with his new teammates. He also encouraged Romo to keep going out, even for the routine handoffs at the end of blowouts.

“It’s one of those things that when you get done with your playing career, you can look back and say, ‘That was pretty special,’” Kitna said. “Being able to take every snap, that’s pretty rare. … I was happy he got to do it.”

Kitna knows the thrill because he’s among the handful of players to pull it off in recent years.

“Twice,” he said, smiling.

Kitna and Romo are among nine players who went through a season taking every snap among quarterbacks _ thus, discounting wildcat plays and other gimmicks _ since 2006, according to research by STATS LLC. Their data by snaps dates to 2006.

Using attempts as the standard, STATS found 36 instances since 1990 where a single quarterback threw every pass. That includes Kitna in 2003 with Cincinnati and ‘06 with Detroit, and Romo last season.

Kitna’s inactivity made him a bit of an unknown for the Cowboys this season. It was especially worrisome for team owner Jerry Jones because he remembers how the offense dropped off during the three games in 2008 when aging backup Brad Johnson replaced an injured Romo.

The Cowboys went 1-2, with one of the losses to a St. Louis team that lost its remaining 10 games. Dallas ended up one win shy of making the playoffs.

So after seeing Kitna against San Diego last weekend _ 9 of 15 for 84 yards and a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, with no sacks or turnovers _ Jones declared, “I’m going to sleep better about quarterback tonight than I’ve slept this year.”

“I thought Kitna did an outstanding job,” Jones said. “He scrambled out, had some pressure on him, and threw the ball out of bounds _ that’s what you want to see. You can’t get that in practice with that kind of pressure. You want to make sure when you’re 37, you’ve got your legs and he’s got his legs.”

Kitna, who turns 37 next month, understands the owner being curious about whether age has caught up to him.

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