- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The latest development in Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s return from a compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae is that the 36-year-old is shooting for a Week 8 return, the game after Dallas’ bye week.

Romo suffered his back injury in the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Since Romo’s injury, the Cowboys have turned to rookie Dak Prescott, who has powered the Cowboys to a 3-1 record, and he’s done so in outstanding fashion.

Prescott has thrown for 1,012 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s added another 57 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. But the most impressive aspect of Prescott’s start to his career is his passing accuracy.

Through four games and 131 pass attempts, Prescott hasn’t thrown a single interception, setting an NFL record for the most attempts without one by a rookie. In fact, Prescott is even approaching the all-time record of consecutive pass attempts without an interception to start a career, set by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in his second season with 162 (Brady threw three pass attempts in his rookie year before setting the mark in his second season).

And in comparison to his fellow quarterback brethren, Prescott’s 67.9 completion percentage ranks sixth in the NFL.

Prescott’s otherworldly totals have been instrumental in Dallas’ early season success. With a strong run game complementing his passing game, the Cowboys offense has become one of the more dynamic units in the NFL.

That leaves Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett with a difficult predicament when Romo returns. After all, Romo is Dallas’ all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

There may be one deciding factor between Romo and Prescott. So far this season, Prescott has struggled on the long ball, completing just one of his nine pass attempts over 20 yards, giving him a completion percentage of just 11.11 percent on the long ball. Romo, on the other hand, completed two of his eight pass attempts of the same distance in four games just last season, and 22 of his 50 attempts in 2014, giving him a 41.38 completion percentage over the last two seasons.

That’s important because Prescott is currently having a difficult time getting the ball to wide receiver Dez Bryant. In three games, Bryant has managed just 150 yards on 11 receptions. In fact, Bryant has been targeted just 23 times by Prescott, less than both wide receiver Cole Beasley, who has been utilized as Prescott’s short yardage target and tight end Jason Witten, Prescott’s reliable safety blanket.

If Garrett wants to give his top receiver more looks, Romo may be the go-to option. But if Prescott continues to perform well, churn out wins or even grows more confident in the deep passes within the offense in the next few games, Garrett may choose to stay with his rookie quarterback.

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