Tony Romo took it easy on his bruised right hand yesterday, throwing nothing more than lobs during practice.

During all his down time, he might have gotten a good laugh by looking at the merry-go-round playing out in the Dallas Cowboys' secondary.

On one play, suspended-but-appealing safety Roy Williams was with the first team, with backup Keith Davis right behind him. On the next play, Davis was with the first team, with Williams waiting in the wings.

Williams was told Monday that he has to sit out Saturday's game against Carolina as punishment for his third "horse-collar" tackle this season. He appealed yesterday and a hearing was set for today.

"We're in a little bit of limbo here," coach Wade Phillips said. "We just need to get it settled."

This practice was only a walkthrough, as Phillips didn't want to push his players too hard 2 days after a game. Tuesday is normally their day off.

Romo was limited because of an injury to the thumb on his passing hand. He didn't take snaps and might only take them out of the shotgun today, even though he'll likely have a new center.

Starter Andre Gurode hurt his left knee and probably won't play against the Panthers.

Williams has known since early October that another horse-collar might cost him a game, which could explain why he was angrily bouncing up and down after being flagged for doing it again Sunday against Donovan McNabb.

Then again, the violation is known as the Roy Williams Rule because it was put in following his takedown from behind of Terrell Owens in 2004. Owens broke his leg and tore ankle ligaments on that tackle.

Since the move was outlawed, Williams has been fined $10,000 in October 2006; $12,500 in September; and $15,000 in October. He also was told the last time that if he did it again, he might be fined and suspended. This suspension, if upheld, would cost him his weekly salary of $35,000.

Noteworthy

* People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has created a holiday e-card featuring former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is serving a 23-month federal sentence for a dogfighting conspiracy. In the card, a cartoon version of Vick paces across a prison yard inside a snow globe as gun-toting guards and their barking dogs keep watch. He's wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and football helmet and dragging a ball and chain.

When a visitor to PETA's Web site shakes the snow globe by dragging a mouse, Vick bounces around and crashes against the globe's dome as a commentator announces, "They got to the quarterback's blindside there. He never had a chance."

Also, Roddy White and four other Falcons were fined by the NFL for violating uniform regulations with tributes to Vick during last week's Monday night game.

Also fined were Alge Crumpler, DeAngelo Hall, Chris Houston and Joe Horn.

In another matter, citing multiple sources, ESPN.com reported that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has asked Bill Parcells to accept a job as the team's vice president of football operations.

ESPN.com reported that Parcells would be able to hire the team's next coach and reorganize the personnel department. According to the report, Rich McKay would remain as president but not general manager.

* Coach Herm Edwards apologized to Chiefs fans for telling them to "get over it," and said he should have chosen his words more carefully in talking about their reaction to his team's long losing streak. *