When Tony Romo was sacked at the end of the third quarter on Monday night, he sustained two "transverse process fractures," per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. The transverse process is a wing-shaped part of one of the bones in the spine, which extends out on either side of the vertebral body.
The injury did not show up on X-rays taken in the locker room during the game, and Romo subsequently returned and played in the game. But a later CT scan showed the injury, which has kept Romo out of practice all week.
The NFL medical community had been speculating about the possibility of a transverse process fracture all week, but confirmation only came today.
According to the Cowboys, the injury is not connected to the surgery Romo had on his back earlier in the year. We are no medical experts here at Blogging the Boys, so we cannot make any definitive statements on the nature of the injury, how it could affect Romo, and whether Romo will be able to play tomorrow. Ed Werder was one of the first to make a statement about Romo's status for tomorrow:
I'm told Tony Romo will either start or be inactive vs #Cardinals. If he can't play, Brandon Weeden starts, undrafted Dustin Vaughan No. 2— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) November 1, 2014
Thank you, Ed. So Romo either starts or is inactive? I'd never have guessed. Jerry Jones said on Friday that Romo remains a gametime decision, and that his status would be revealed an hour before the game when the inactives list is released.
In the meantime, a consensus seems to be emerging about the impact the injury could have on Romo. David J. Chao (@ProFootballDoc), former San Diego team coach and medical expert for the National Football Post, summarized the situation in a series of Tweets as follows:
- Transverse process fractures are very painful but NOT structural. NO risk of nerve/paralysis. Possible to play.
- Whether ROMO plays will depend on pain, muscle spasm and effectiveness. Coaching decision more than medical decision.
- Recently Baylor QB Bryce Petty finished game with 2 transverse process fractures then missed 1 game. Very painful.
- Fractures take 6wks to heal. ROMO will play in 0-2wks. Don't need transverse process to heal to play. They often never heal. Non-structural.
- Transverse process fractures can get worse & more painful if hit but will not cause nerve damage, become long term or need surgery.
For now, Dr. Chao's info chimes with what we can glean from various other sources on the interwebs.
We know that Tony Romo is one tough dude and has played through some serious pain before. Whether he'll do that again on Sunday is anybody's guess, though Romo did say earlier this week that if he felt he could be productive and "do the fundamental things that need to get done," he'd play - regardless of the pain.