Tony Romo missed practice Wednesday, keeping the Cowboys quarterback out of what's usually the biggest day of practice in what's certainly the biggest week of the season.
Luckily for Dallas, the schedule happened to be different this week.
Coming off a Saturday night game, the Cowboys put in their game plan a day early, "so he missed a day where we were repeating some things," coach Wade Phillips said. In fact, the team didn't even practice in full pads.
"We think he'll be back tomorrow," Phillips said. "Actually, if he comes back tomorrow he'll fit in a regular week's practice."
Romo showed up to work, then was sent home with some medicine to help deal with his flu-like symptoms.
Receiver Terrell Owens said he expects Romo to play Sunday in Philadelphia, a game the Cowboys (9-6) must win to get an NFC wild-card berth into the playoffs.
"I mean, he's not on his dying bed, is he?" Owens said.
Romo has been limited by a back injury in recent weeks and earlier this season missed three games with a broken pinkie on his throwing hand. He said Tuesday that everyone has bumps and bruises this time of year.
"It's December," Romo said. "Everybody plays with different things. It's part of the game."
Tight end Jason Witten also missed practice Wednesday to ease the strain on his body. He's quite banged up, with a sprained ankle the biggest concern. Phillips noted that Witten played with a broken rib earlier this season, so "you know he's going to go."
Running back Marion Barber went through drills, but likely will remain a game-time decision because of a dislocated right pinkie toe. Safety Ken Hamlin practiced for the first time in three weeks, although he played the last two games anyway.
Phillips said backup quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger split Romo's share of snaps.
T.O. said Romo's absence wasn't too big of a deal.
"He was sick. What can you do?" Owens said. "You just go out there and practice. It's not a game, you know?"
The Cowboys are 4-2 since Romo returned from his broken finger, but both losses have come this month, prompting more scrutiny about Romo's problems in December. For his career, he's 5-7 in December and 22-4 in September, October and November.
"There's no reason," Romo said. "This year I think it's pretty easy to indicate that we played against pretty good opponents. Years past, I'm not sure."
The two losses were against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. However, Romo made crucial mistakes in both, throwing a late fourth-quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown against the Steelers, then a high, deep pass against the Ravens shortly before halftime that was intercepted and led to a go-ahead field goal. Romo has taken further heat for downplaying the interception against Baltimore as being like a punt.
"Don't get me wrong. They are never a good thing," he said. "An interception is a bad deal, no matter what time it is or frame or whatever. I think sometimes, against a team like Baltimore, you get into a mode, or you just kind of do stuff off the cuff a little bit. That's what they do well. There's probably 20 different throws where you are just kind off the cuff in that game, which is a really, really high number for a game. ...
"I have to fix it," he continued. "I have to go back and decide why I did that, and make sure the next time I get in that situation I don't. It's part of the game. It's part of the learning process. And I will get better, I promise you that."