IRVING, Tex. -- The Dallas Cowboys opened minicamp on Tuesday and quarterback Tony Romo was again sidelined as he was during OTAs because of offseason back surgery.
Romo has begun throwing passes as part of his rehab program, but he won't work with the team on the field until the start of training camp in July.
That being said, what's also true is that Romo has been more involved with the Cowboys this offseason than any time in his career.
Despite what he hasn't been able to do on the field, Romo has more than made up for it with his new increased involvement in personnel, offensive installation and game planning.
Remember that Peyton Manning-type time that owner Jerry Jones talked about Romo spending at the team's Valley Ranch headquarters after signing him to a six-year, $108 million contract extension?
Well, Jones is getting his money's worth so far as Romo has been involved in the offensive installation with the coaches in the offseason. He was in the draft room going over prospective draft picks.
And during minicamps, as he was in OTAs, he is on the field with the coaches as they call the offense.
"We're just putting together some ideas that we love," Romo said of his involvement in game planning. "I feel strongly about certain things that are going to help us. It's just a bunch of guys going to work every day and figuring out ways to be better as a football team. Lots of different capacities for players and coaches all the way up, so it's exciting."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Romo's increased involvement was a collective and deliberate decision by the entire organization and a natural evolution for Romo, who he called a gym rat.
"Tony is very involved in what we are doing and has been for many years," Garrett said. "But we made the decision early in the offseason prior to signing Tony to really say, 'Hey, Tony, we want you to get more involved.' We want to be very deliberate from an organizational standpoint to do that. He has certainly embraced that. Tony is a gym rat, always has been. He is always around this place. We have tried to step that up more.
"It has been challenging for him. He hasn't been able to do stuff physically, but he is getting the most out of it. He has always had that mentality like most quarterbacks. We wanted to make a decision as an organization to get the most out of him to say, 'Hey, we want more. You have done a great job up this point. We want more. We know you want more.' And that has been a positive change. He has spent a ton of time up in here in the offseason engaged in what we are doing, helping us put the whole installation plan together. He will continue to do that through training camp and into the regular season and certainly on game day."
Romo has been throwing as he has amped up his rehab program. He had hoped to participate in minicamp but understands why the trainers want to err on the side of caution and not risk anything.
"I feel ready to go. I was running. We were pushing it on the treadmill good last week," he said. "I was pretty amped up, ready to go. And I think as a player, you're always trying to push through it. It's just this time of year, it's intelligent to really be patient with it any time you go through something like that and be smart and make sure you don't do anything dumb."
But Romo is taking advantage of the opportunity to be a coach on the field for his teammates in his expanded and more involved role.
He said sitting out has provided an unexpected benefit: being able to help teammates see and correct mistakes on the field instead of having to wait and watch tape.
"You can kind of get with them quickly, right after the play, and let them assess why their leverage was here and what they needed to do to get themselves in the right position, or why they needed to widen or take a step -- whatever it might be." Romo said. "I think that's part of me growing as a player and understanding what needs to be done to help the team win.
"Yeah, that can be a small positive that helps, and we've been doing that."