IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo looked like the man in charge of the Dallas offence for the first off-season practice until the drills got a little more competitive.
Five months removed from back surgery, Romo donned a baseball cap for 11-on-11 work. There's no use in rushing, as coach Jason Garrett has been saying for weeks.
Romo echoed that talk Tuesday in his first extensive interview since sustaining a herniated disk against Washington and missing the finale against Philadelphia with a playoff berth on the line.
"I don't know that there's anything you can't do," the 34-year-old said in the locker room after practice. "You just want to make sure you don't put a high volume of numbers on it yet."
For example, Romo says he has thrown at full velocity -- just not very often -- in his continuing recovery from surgery Dec. 27. That came two days before he watched from home while the Cowboys fell to the Eagles in a third straight season-ending loss that put them at 8-8 and kept them out of the post-season.
"It's very difficult to watch," said Romo, who was under centre for season-finale losses at the New York Giants and Washington the previous two seasons, and for another one at Philadelphia in 2008. "That one obviously is out of your control. That's what made it hard. It's amazing how big of a fan you become, rooting and excited about every little thing."
Romo was further along Tuesday than he was a year ago, when he had surgery to remove a cyst on his back in April and missed all the off-season practices. He went to California ahead of his teammates for some intense conditioning work before training camp, and spent the first few weeks catching up.
"I'm actually excited just about comparative to last year where you're just going into camp without having had a rep in the off-season," Romo said. "There's some things I want to work on, and I've been doing that in small doses. Now we'll get that ramped up here."
Romo has a new play caller for the third straight season in Scott Linehan, who was offensive co-ordinator in Detroit before coach Jim Schwartz was fired after last season.
Linehan and Garrett worked together for a season in Miami almost a decade ago, and plenty of the language will be the same. The new passing game co-ordinator is in no hurry to see up close all the things his new primary weapon can do.
"We're early," Linehan said. "And the mental game that he's getting done with us and the meetings and the last four or five weeks when we started our off-season program has been huge. I know he's getting himself ready to go."
There are daily discussions over what's next for Romo.
"Certainly we anticipate him being ready to go at training camp," Garrett said. "We'll evaluate how he did today, say, 'What do you think? Should we stick with the same plan tomorrow? What do you think about Thursday?' You're always trying to push the limit as best you can, but you don't want to do something where you go across that line and they have setbacks."
NOTES: The Cowboys waived injured rookie free agent tight end Evan Wilson and signed guard Tyronne Green, a fourth-round pick by San Diego in 2009. Green has 28 starts in 41 career games. He was with New England part of last season but didn't play.