- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

OXNARD, CALIF. (AP) - Tony Romo is in his 10th training camp with the Dallas Cowboys.

It doesn’t really seem that long to the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who is coming off one of his best seasons.

“I didn’t play for the first 3 1/2, I missed basically a full season in another one,” Romo said. “I guess I’ve only played five, 5 1/2 seasons of football, and it kind of feels like that. But 10 is definitely a bigger number.”

As an undrafted rookie free agent from little Eastern Illinois in 2003, Romo was just trying to make the throw, make a play and make the team.

“He’s matured as a person, he’s matured as a player, he matured as a leader,” coach Jason Garrett said.

This is Romo’s sixth camp as the starting quarterback for the Cowboys (No. 15 in the AP Pro32). That is the same time Garrett has been part of the staff.

When asked what he thought he’d see looking back, Romo responded, “A really bad player.”

And he wasn’t referring to those first days in San Antonio’s Alamodome when Bill Parcells was still coach. He was talking about after he became the starter seven games into the 2006 season.

“It’d be laughable if I went back in `06 or `07, `08, `09 as a player, the way I was then and compare it to the way I’m growing as a football player,” Romo said. “Obviously through experiences and the decision-making, but I’m just talking technically. It’s way different just the ability to throw a football, and that’s exciting to know that you keep improving.”

Romo threw for 4,184 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. Even with his career best quarterback rating of 102.5, the Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row _ a first since he became the starter.

Jerry Jones has called 2011 one of his most disappointing seasons in his more than two decades owning the team, primarily because of the failure to take advantage of Romo’s play.

But the 32-year-old Romo, the Cowboys‘ oldest offensive player, believes he’s still far from peaking.

“Well, I’m still advancing. I still think the ceiling is still there, and I’m learning new things all the time,” he said. “Some of the stuff I worked on this offseason, I get pretty excited about seeing that aspect being able to take shape. … I’m already a little bit excited about some of the things that I feel like are going to carry over.”

As usual, Romo wouldn’t get into specifics about what he focused on this offseason, which is also when he became a father for the first time.

Romo spent his entire rookie season as the Cowboys‘ third quarterback, then was the backup quarterback and kick holder in 2004 and 2005. Everything changed at halftime of the sixth game in 2006, when Romo took over at halftime for Drew Bledsoe, started the rest of the season and was elected to the Pro Bowl after starting only 10 games.

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