- Associated Press - Friday, September 10, 2010

IRVING, TEXAS (AP) - Tony Romo insisted all summer that everything would be fine.

Whatever problems the Dallas Cowboys had moving the ball in preseason games, he was confident of working them out because, he said repeatedly, he treats practices as if they’re games, even in training camp.

Considering the success Romo has had as a starter in September the past three seasons, maybe there really is nothing to worry about for the Cowboys.

Romo, the undrafted free agent turned record-setting quarterback and three-time Pro Bowler, knows the significance of a strong start.

“I just think it’s important to the season,” Romo said. “You know how it goes if you don’t start off winning football games.”

Especially when there are Super Bowl expectations and the unique opportunity to become the first host team to play in the championship game, though Romo insists that doesn’t really change anything.

“There’s pressure to perform every year,” Romo said.

Romo is 9-2 in September games since 2007, his first full season as a starting quarterback. He has won all three of his season openers.

Only Brett Favre has won that many opening-month games in that span, falling to 9-3 after Minnesota’s 14-9 loss to New Orleans in the NFL kickoff Thursday night.

Both of Romo’s September setbacks have been two-point losses at home against NFC East rivals. He is 5-0 the first month of the season on the road, and that’s where Dallas opens the season Sunday night _ in Washington against Donovan McNabb and the Redskins.

Romo is an elite quarterback. I like Romo’s game,” McNabb said. “He’s been successful in these last three years or so. So I think Romo has made a name for himself, where when you talk about the Dallas Cowboys, obviously you start with Tony Romo.”

New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was still in Denver in 2003 when Romo was an undrafted quarterback out of FCS school Eastern Illinois. That is the same college attended by Shanahan and Sean Payton, then the Cowboys offensive coordinator and now the Super Bowl-winning head coach for the New Orleans Saints.

Shanahan and the Broncos offered Romo a $20,000 signing bonus, twice what the Cowboys gave him.

“It still doesn’t seem right,” Shanahan said with a chuckle this week. “I was bragging to my coaches, I’ve got an Eastern Illinois tie. … Sean steals him from me. I still give Sean a hard time about that.”

That hasn’t changed Shanahan’s appreciation for Romo and how the quarterback handles himself on and off the field.

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