Tony Romo does not need surgery on his broken left collarbone, and doctors are expecting the Dallas Cowboys quarterback to miss up to eight weeks.
With only 10 weeks left in a season that's off to a 1-5 start, there may not be much reason for Romo to return at all.
"We have one game left, one game," coach Wade Phillips said, refusing to look beyond the upcoming weekend. "You can talk about 10 games and a hard schedule and all that, but we've got one game left and we're going to try to win that ballgame."
Romo broke his left collarbone on a hard hit by an unblocked linebacker early in the second quarter against the New York Giants on Monday night. He spent the second half watching from the bench, his arm in a sling. On Tuesday, he was checked out again, more extensively, including a CT scan.
Jon Kitna will take over at quarterback. The 38-year-old former Pro Bowler hadn't thrown a pass in more than two years and was out of whack for much of the second and third quarters. He threw two touchdown passes in the final few minutes, narrowing the final score to 41-35 and giving Phillips hope for the coming weeks.
"I think he'll do a good job," Phillips said. "That's why we got him — in case things like this happen."
This thing happened because linebacker Michael Boley had a clear path to Romo.
"We made a mistake there," Phillips said. "That's certainly unfortunate for Tony. It was a base thing that we've run since training camp. That was the discouraging thing. ... He fell the wrong way. He got hit before, but this time it was more serious."
In the second half Monday night, Romo tried being an extra coach on the sideline — wearing a headset, studying instant pictures and offering advice and encouragement. He said he'll do more of the same while he's out.
And how long will that be?
Troy Aikman had a similar injury in 1998 and missed seven weeks. Even at the best-case scenario of six weeks, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys being contenders by then.
This season is such a disaster that 2010 already is connected to two of the worst teams in club history: 1989 (1-15 in the first year of Jones' ownership) and 1960 (0-11-1 in franchise's inaugural year). At least both those teams had excuses for being so terrible.
The only other club with such a wretched start was in 1963. Coach Tom Landry's fourth team was expected to be up-and-comers, but struggled and was further hurt by the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. After going 4-10, Landry received a 10-year contract extension to show how much management believed in him.
Ah, how times have changed.
The only job security for Phillips is that Romo's absence helps ensure his employment the rest of this season. Jones has been adamant about wanting to keep him and might as well since it's a lost cause anyway.
"Romo getting hurt doesn't affect the way I feel about Wade," Jones said after the game.
With the Cowboys losing their relevancy before Halloween, local sports fans can turn their attention to the Rangers in the World Series or the Mavericks season that begins Wednesday night. The football loyalists are probably working on their mock drafts, guessing whether Jones will want to spruce up the offensive line or go for another "wow" pick such as Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys probably won't go looking for another quarterback because they already have millions of dollars and 1½ seasons invested in Kitna and his backup, Stephen McGee, a fourth-round pick from Texas A&M in 2009.