The Dallas Cowboys are a better team with Tony Romo on the field. They just don't know if he'll be on the field Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Cowboys (6-3) have lost two straight after going on a six-game winning streak. Romo hurt his back for the third time in the last 18 months two weeks ago, and then watched as backup Brandon Weeden struggled to get the offense going in another loss last Sunday.
Romo practiced Thursday for the first time since arriving in London, and said his back was sore but getting better.
"You got to kind of test it out and see what you can do. You got to push it," Romo said, sounding hopeful of playing against the Jaguars (1-8) on Sunday. "At the same time, you got to understand your body and be smart with it."
Romo is 69-47 in the regular season as Dallas' starting quarterback. Weeden is 0-1.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said the team has been preparing as usual, even though the Cowboys don't quite know who will be taking the snaps at Wembley Stadium in the last of three regular-season NFL games in London this year.
On the opposite side, Jacksonville is doing the same thing.
"Each week, we have to prepare for both quarterbacks," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "In our mindset, we anticipate seeing Tony, but we'll be ready for both."
Some other things to consider for Cowboys-Jaguars:
WHO WILL DECIDE: Romo needed to do some improving to show he is healthy enough to make the start. That's something that the Cowboys medical team needs to decide before Garrett — or Romo, for that matter, — gets his say.
Romo's attitude is definitely leaning toward wanting to play.
"If you love the game, you'll always try to get on the field," Romo said. "Any time you miss a game, it's just hard."
JAGUARS' IMPROVED D: Whether it's Romo or Weeden, the Dallas coaches are preparing to go up against a solid Jaguars defensive line.
"Independent of what the quarterback's health is, the Jacksonville pass rush is really good," Garrett said. "They just do a good job of getting up the field and affecting the passing game."
BORTLES' LEARNING CURVE: The Jaguars have their own quarterback injury concern with rookie Blake Bortles nursing a sore left wrist. But Bortles, who leads the league with 13 interceptions, said his wrist was OK, it's his game that needs to improve.
"Continue to learn from mistakes," Bortles said. "There are a lot of things that can be beneficial, good or bad as long as you take from them the right way."
RECORDS ABROAD: The Cowboys have played overseas nine times in their history, including twice in London. But this is the first time they'll be playing a regular-season game outside the United States.
In their two previous visits to Britain for preseason American Bowl games, Dallas lost to the Detroit Lions 17-6 in 1993, and tied 13-13 with the Chicago Bears in 1986.
Now comes the real thing, and at a time when they could really use a win to stay on track for the playoffs.
"The first nine games of the season we've done some really positive things. There are some things we've got to get better at," Garrett said. "You're always trying to build on the good stuff and clean up the bad stuff."
Jacksonville is hosting a London game for the second year in a row and will do so over the next two seasons. That Jaguars lost to San Francisco 42-10 in 2013.
UP AHEAD: The Cowboys get the obligatory bye after a London game, then finish with four NFC East games in their final six. One of those is a night game — at the Giants on Nov. 23. Then comes the annual Thanksgiving match they host, which will be against their top competition in the division, the Eagles.
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