The news that Tony Romo underwent surgery and has been placed on injured reserve has not had a noticeable effect on the Dallas Cowboys veteran backup quarterback Kyle Orton. This is exactly the type of situation that the Cowboys anticipated, but hoped to never see, when they signed Orton to a three year, $10.5 million dollar deal prior to the start of the 2012 season. Each week Orton has prepared for the upcoming game with the same mindset that he used as an NFL starter, and now he expects himself to deliver a return on Jones' investment.
"It doesn't change my mindset. Maybe the other guys." - Kyle Orton
While he may be the backup in Dallas, Orton is certainly capable of starting for several other teams around the NFL, and several of his teammates have confidence in him. After all, Orton did receive a lot of the offseason work due to Romo's previous surgical procedure on his back. After two seasons in the system, he has all the preparation he needs to be an acceptable fill-in for #9. Also, according to many accounts, the team has experienced a good week of practice with Orton at the helm.
Top Dallas receiver Dez Bryant not only expects that Kyle Orton will step in and get the job done; he believes that he and his teammates will rally around their fallen leader and that they will all elevate their game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We prepared great this week, especially today. We’re going to go out and we’re going to lay it all out on the line and get this W for Tony." - Dez Bryant
Cole Beasley, who developed a strong rapport with Orton while serving as a backup himself in 2012, concurs with Bryant. Although he knows that Romo's leadership in the huddle will be missed, he knows that the Cowboys will do what they have to do.
"It's always tough not having a guy that's been in the huddle, calling the shots for us in the huddle all season. But you've got to find a way either way."
"It's the same offense, just plugging that guy in for another one," - Cole Beasley
Another Cowboy receiver, Dwayne Harris, who received a lot of work with the backup QB during the 2012 season, knows that Kyle is capable of stepping up at any time.
"Kyle is a good quarterback. He is going to do a good job." - Dwayne Harris
While it will not be easy for Dallas on Sunday, Kyle Orton is a viable replacement for Romo. Over his career, the four-year NFL starter has experienced his share of success and that lends credibility in the eyes of the men with whom he will take the field at AT&T Stadium. Perhaps the two most important guys to have in his corner are teammate Jason Witten and head coach Jason Garrett. Kyle has earned the respect of both.
"Kyle has played at a high level and had a lot of success in the league, so [he’s] somebody we respect." - Jason Witten
"We have Kyle Orton here for a reason. He’s a veteran quarterback who has started  games in the NFL, so he understands what his role is each and every week in terms of preparation. Kyle knows that he has to be ready. Kyle prepares as if he’s the starting quarterback each week." - Jason Garrett
It is not just they guys on the field who are throwing their support Kyle's way. Former Dallas QB turned broadcaster Troy Aikman expects a solid performance from the reserve quarterback.
"He doesn't have this great arm, but he was at Purdue, where they threw the ball a lot. He's not a caretaker. He's regarded as that because of the system he played in, primarily at Chicago. That's what they did, they did everything to protect the offense and play to their defensive strength, but he's a guy who's capable of playing in this league today, where the pass is so predominant, and I expect him to come out in this game and play well." - Troy Aikman
Speaking with KTCK-FM 96.7 "The Ticket", Aikman stressed his belief that Kyle Orton is a much better quarterback than he was ever given credit for and that he feels that Orton was hindered by the offense that he was forced to play within.
As for himself, Orton prefers to brush aside any reference to his talents and credits the Garrett system for putting him in a position where he feels that he can be effective.
"We got a great system here. Just run the plays and go to the right spots with the ball. We got great players, so if you do that and you do it consistently, you can score a lot of points." - Kyle Orton
On Sunday night, Orton will have the opportunity to do just that. With an offensive line that is starting to come into its own and a running game that has emerged over the last few weeks, Kyle Orton finds himself in a situation where he has a chance to find success by playing within his skill-set and using the weapons that the Dallas Cowboys have around him. If he can do that, and his teammates can rise to meet the challenge, Kyle Orton stands a chance of getting to make his 71st career start in the NFC Playoffs.
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