WITH TAPE still wrapped around his bruised throwing hand after practice, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo insists that he will be ready to play in what is essentially a playoff game against the New York Giants.
"Everything's coming together like we thought, just each day it's getting a little bit better," Romo said yesterday. "We'll be good to go this weekend."
Romo wore the protective wrap on his swollen right hand, the one he banged on Jason Babin's helmet on the opening series Saturday against the Eagles before coming out of the game. The wrap leaves his fingers and thumb free. He wasn't wearing anything on the hand Wednesday.
The Cowboys go on the road to face the Giants on Sunday night, a matchup of 8-7 teams that will decide the NFC East title and fill the NFC's last playoff spot.
Romo, who played through a broken rib early this season, said he isn't worried about whether he will feel normal Sunday.
"You have to go out there and practice all week and get yourself ready to go to the game on Sunday. I'm excited that we're in this position and we have an opportunity to go and play in a big game like this," he said. "This is when it gets fun. No matter what, you're not going to sit one of these out."
During the few minutes early in practice open to reporters, Romo came out of the locker room wearing the protective wrap and made a few soft tosses.
"Tony did a little bit more today than he did yesterday. I wouldn't constitute a full practice, but he's making some progress," coach Jason Garrett said. "The swelling still is there . . . All the functional things that a quarterback has to do, he has to be able to do by game time, and he's making progress in all those areas."
Garrett said backup quarterback Stephen McGee, who finished Saturday's game after Romo got hurt, got some work with the first-team offense again.
In other NFL news:
* Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy said that he's "feeling better" and making progress from the concussion he sustained on Dec. 8 from a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Steelers linebacker James Harrison. McCoy, who has not been medically cleared to practice, refused to answer questions about the hit. He did, however, praise Cleveland's medical staff for its handling of his concussion despite the team not testing him for a head injury on the sideline and sending him back in the game after sitting out just two plays.
"Our medical staff does an outstanding job and that should never be in question," said McCoy, speaking for the first time since he was diagnosed with the concussion.
* New England quarterback Tom Brady participated in practice on a limited basis because of a left shoulder injury. Comcast SportsNet reported that Brady had X-rays Wednesday to check for a separated left shoulder and was told he was "all set." The Patriots (12-3) have clinched a first-round bye and can lock up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win or tie against Buffalo.
* Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn't want his sprained left ankle to keep him out of Pittsburgh's regular-season finale Sunday against Cleveland. "As long as I can deal with pain, I'll be out there," said Roethlisberger, who sat out the Steelers' win last Sunday against St. Louis. He practiced yesterday and said the ankle, sprained Dec. 8, was "a little sore." The Steelers will win the AFC North is they beat the Browns and Cincinnati beats Baltimore.
* Broncos safety Brian Dawkins has missed practice again because of a neck injury that has left him questionable for Denver's pivotal regular-season finale against Kansas City. He has played just one quarter since pinching a nerve in his neck 3 weeks ago. Denver must beat Kansas City to clinch its first postseason berth since 2005.
* Terrell Owens is close to agreeing to a contract to play with the Indoor Football League's Allen Wranglers in suburban Dallas, according to Wranglers general manager Drew Pearson and owner Jon Frankel. The deal would also include a mid-six-figure salary and an ownership stake of "likely 50 percent," Frankel said.
* Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is scheduled for surgery today on his left knee. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Alabama, 6 days after Peterson tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a game against Washington. The Vikings have said they expect him to be ready for next year's opener.
* New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas has been fined $12,500 for a uniform violation and a touchdown celebration in which he placed a bow on a football and gave it to a fan. The fine for the celebration is $7,500. Thomas also violated NFL policies by wearing Christmas-themed green and red tape on his black and gold Saints uniform, and his fine for that is $5,000.