For the first time all season, Tony Romo was a full participant in practice, and that is just going to keep the "QB controversy" going.
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Tony Romo as he once again participated in practice, marking the third-straight week he has been active on the practice fields. Reports surfaced Wednesday morning that Romo is now healthy enough to play, and that the decision of whether to play him is now a coaching matter.
Romo may finally be full-go for practice, but Jason Garrett put to rest any idea that he was a candidate to start right away.
"The way we have done it with our quarterbacks here for a long time is the starting quarterback gets the practice work with the ones all throughout the week," said coach Jason Garrett, who has operated with this schedule since becoming the offensive coordinator in 2007. "The backup quarterbacks get the scout-team work. ... Typically, all around the league, the starters get the first reps at the quarterback position and the backups get what they can at scout team and get themselves ready that way."
How good does Romo look in practice so far?
"He looks great," linebacker Sean Lee said. "I mean he looks like he hasn't missed a beat. His ability to throw the ball, I always say I've been here seven years and I haven't been near a football when he goes against us just because of how great he is with this eyes, how quick he is with his release. It's amazing taking the time off, he looks fantastic, like he hasn't missed any time."
Romo may be getting closer to returning to play, but he has not stopped working with the man getting all the attention right now.
On Sunday, after guiding the Cowboys to a blowout win in Cleveland, rookie Dak Prescott was asked what rehabbing veteran QB Tony Romo had helped him with in preparation for what has become a 7-1 start to the season.
"Everything,'' Dak said. "I don't think we have enough time for me to go through all of the things he's helped me with, and continues to do.
There has been a lot of coverage of how supportive Romo has been of Dak Prescott. But there is another veteran QB on the team who is just as much behind the rookie, Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez has taken to grabbing Prescott after games and reminding him to enjoy the wins. It's something veteran Mark Brunell did for Sanchez early in his career.
"You better take a few minutes after every game," Sanchez said. "Just relax, soak it all in, enjoy it. I made sure to tell Dak that the other night [after the comeback, overtime win over Philadelphia]: 'Bro, you don't understand what you just did, you have no clue yet. It won't even register with you until years down the line. And you need to enjoy this and then forget about it and move on and have a good week next week.'"
Ben Roethlisberger, this week's opposing quarterback, who once replaced veteran Tommy Maddox and never let him get the job back, offered his thoughts on Romo vs. Prescott.
"When you're just kind of rolling and you're not losing games, it's really hard to kind of change that position especially," Roethlisberger said Wednesday from his locker. "Take nothing away from Tony. He's been doing it at a high level. When you're winning football games, it's really hard to replace that one spot."
NFL writer Pete Prisco offered his thoughts on the Dak Prescott/Tony Romo situation.
"I hear all the arguments for continuity, but it's more than that. Which one gives you the best chance to win a Super Bowl? I say it's Romo, but time will tell."
Once upon a time, a couple of rookies named Tony Romo and Jason Witten hit it off right from the start of their careers with the Cowboys. Now, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are following a similar path.
Nearly two months into their first season together, Prescott and Elliott have developed a friendship that has helped their on-field chemistry and kept them sane off the field as the Cowboys experience success few if any saw coming at the beginning of the season.
"Just that chemistry, man, the way we communicate, the way we go out there and play for each other," Elliott said. "Whenever one of us is down we pick each other up and we hold each other accountable. I think that's the most important part. That we can hold each other accountable and we have that mutual respect of each other where no matter what we say to each other whether it's good or bad, we're going to listen to each other."
The competition for rookie of the year is mostly between the two Cowboys rookies.
Continuing their lit play, Prescott and Elliott led the NFL's hottest team (can you believe it?) to its seventh consecutive victory in a 35-10 blowout of the hapless Cleveland Browns. The league's most dynamic rookie backfield tandem since Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris were doing beyond-their-years things in the nation's capital (more on them a bit later), Prescott and Elliott powered an offense that set a franchise record by producing at least 400 total net yards (423 against the Browns) in its sixth straight game.
Emmitt Smith is a true Cowboys legend, but former Vikings running back Robert Smith, who played against Emmitt, sees even more in rookie Ezekiel Elliott.
: He's better than Emmitt Smith. He's better than Emmitt Smith at blocking. He's better running the ball and he's better catching the ball out of the backfield. He's better at everything than Emmitt Smith was.
Rookie of the Year may be setting sights too low for Elliott, according to Rick Gosselin.
Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are the clear front-runners at the season's midway point for NFL rookie of the year honors.
But it's time we raise the bar for Elliott. At the season's midway point, I peg him as one of a small handful of favorites for NFL MVP.
He's one of three players I'd consider at this point of the season. The other two are quarterbacks, Derek Carr of the Raiders and Matt Ryan of the Falcons. The NFL is a quarterback's game and the MVP is a quarterback award. Of the 49 players selected as the NFL MVP since the merger in 1970, 32 of them have been quarterbacks.
The game on Sunday looks to be strength against strength, and the Steelers know they have their work cut out for them in trying to stop league-leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott.
"It's important you have multiple guys hitting him, the hits accumulate on him where if he makes the first guy miss, you have two or three guys coming in to finish him off as well," linebacker Arthur Moats said.
Sounds painful, but an average of 111 yards per game might ease the soreness. Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott and a stocked offensive line lead the league's second-ranked rushing offense and average nearly 5 yards per carry.
The Steelers' defense is built on stopping the run, and after giving up a ghastly 362 yards in back-to-back losses to the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, Pittsburgh got back on track Sunday with less than two yards per carry allowed against the Baltimore Ravens.
In his weekly look at the defense, Bob Sturm brings up how the unexpectedly strong showing so far was just as hard to predict as that political thing that just happened.
It was hard to look at last year's defense and see optimism for 2016 success. Then, they added very little -- in fact, the return of Orlando Scandrick seemed cancelled out by the losses of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain. So far, the Cowboys' defense has faced 501 snaps. Seven different defenders have played at least 300 of those (60 percent) and all seven were part of last year's defense that got no sacks and no takeaways. Well below average on both.
So, yes, they have new guys contributing -- Maliek Collins, Terrell McClain, Anthony Brown, Benson Mayowa and Cedric Thornton have all played plenty, but just not over that 300-snap barrier. They are helping, but not doing all of the heavy lifting. But, of course, one sign of a very effective defensive front is the ability to show depth and come at an offense in waves. Fewer snaps may mean a higher motor when you play, which is reflected in the eyeball test.
The amazement over the red-hot start for Dallas just continues.
Defying so many of those pre-September predictions from the punditry, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have followed a one-point loss in their opener with seven straight victories. This, of course, with an all-rookie backfield of Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott performing well beyond their years.
''We're so dynamic it's crazy,'' said two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose three-game absence due to a knee injury went largely unnoticed.
That's partly because of the polish and poise displayed by Prescott, the fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State thrust into action when Tony Romo hurt his back during the preseason. The other significant factor in the first-half surge by the Cowboys, as sure a sign as any that it's sustainable, is the success Elliott has had carrying the ball behind that dominant offensive line built by three former first-round draft picks.
Many are still pushing the narrative that Dez Bryant is a problem in the locker room. Don't believe them.
Bryant has been anything but a distraction. He's said week after week in the locker room how he cares only about winning, and if the catches and touchdowns are a part of that, great. But if not, so be it.
Bryant has gone out of his way to emphasize how close this year's team is and how everyone is playing for each other like never before.
"At the end of the day, we're chasing something," Bryant said after Sunday's win at Cleveland. "It's not a one-man show."
There appear to be some issues for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as RB Le'Veon Bell is just the latest player to openly criticize the way the team is practicing.
Not only was Le'Veon Bell taking a cut at the coaching staff and how they handle practice, but also the players on the football team. No, I'm not suggesting Bell is going rogue and undercutting those who are in charge from both a leadership and coaching standpoint, rather he is shining a light on one of the main issues, he feels, surrounding the team as they hit the midway point of the season.
When I thought about it more, I realized this is the second player to criticize Mike Tomlin's practices in the past month, after Ben Roethlisberger claimed the team was having too many physical practices, and Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell making these claims is far from Cobi Hamilton and L.T. Walton, if you know what I mean.