ARLINGTON, Texas >> Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys’ first-team offense are still looking for their first touchdown this preseason with Bill Callahan calling the plays.
Eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, coming off a record-setting season, still doesn’t even have a catch.
“Yeah, don’t want to hurt that spleen, you know,” Witten joked this week about the injury he sustained last preseason before his 110 catches, an NFL single-season record for tight ends.
There really is no reason to be too concerned about Romo and Witten, but it would be nice to get in the end zone Saturday night in what will likely be their most extensive and last game action before things count for real.
“Absolutely,” Witten said. “It’s all right though. You work on it in practice doing that stuff and this is the same system even though it’s a different play-caller, I’m sure that will all work out.”
Dallas plays the fourth of its five preseason games, the first at home, against Cincinnati. It comes two weeks before the season opener against the New York Giants.
The five series Romo has played this preseason have resulted in a field goal, a missed field goal, a punt and lost fumbles at the end of two big plays. The only score came after a drive started inside the Oakland 20 and lost 4 yards before the kick.
Last weekend in a 12-7 loss at Arizona, Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards but was undone by two fumbles at end of completed passes, one inside the 10 and another by Dez Bryant. Those were the first of five first-half turnovers by the Cowboys, and six overall.
“There were a lot of good things in the game, really in all three phases,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “I think we have grown each of three weeks of the preseason. We made progress in each of those areas and there were a lot of really good individual plays. … The overwhelming story of the ball game was the six turnovers and one takeaway.”
It will be a homecoming of sorts for third-year Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who played the first game of his TCU senior season at the Cowboys’ stadium, a victory over Oregon State that started a 13-0 season culminating with a Rose Bowl victory.
Dalton is first quarterback to lead the Bengals to the playoffs each of his first two seasons, and most of their offense is mostly intact from a year ago.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of new learning gong on so far,” Dalton said. “Everybody basically knows what we’re doing. That’s going to make us better going into the season.”
The Bengals’ starting offense last week had 220 yards, including 115 yards passing and a touchdown by Dalton while going 9-of-14 passing, and built a 17-3 lead against Tennessee.
Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green might be even back for a few plays against the Cowboys. Green bruised his left knee during the first training camp workout and returned to practice last week without playing so far in the Bengals’ two preseason victories.
Bengals starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis sat out last weekend’s game just to get a rest, providing an opportunity for 5-foot-9 Giovani Bernard, the second-round pick who had seven carries for 37 yards and a touchdown and turned a short pass into a 22-yard gain against the Titans.
Bernard is expected to get a lot of time this season as the backup running back and on passing plays.
“He’s not afraid,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “He may not run over people like Adrian Peterson, but he’ll make some people miss. He’s hard to find in there.”