IRVING, Texas (AP) -Tony Romo is already talking about the preseason in past tense.
Romo doesn't expect to play in the Dallas Cowboys' preseason finale Thursday night at home against Minnesota. Instead, the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback is focusing on the season opener at Cleveland.
``The juices are flowing just because the first game is coming,'' Romo said Tuesday before the Cowboys' last full practice until next week. ``Yeah, I thought we had a really good preseason. We're excited about our execution.''
In their most extensive action of the preseason, Romo and the starting offense had 266 total yards in the first half against Houston on Friday night. Romo was 15-for-19 passing for 166 yards with a touchdown, and Marion Barber ran 13 times for 75 yards.
While Romo played only three series the first two preseason games, he said the depth of returning experience and their time at practice during training camp has them where they need to be in preparation for the Sept. 7 opener.
``We came out and we got into training camp at the beginning, it was the best the offense has started for us at camp,'' Romo said. ``Usually the defense is far and away ahead, but having the guys that we had at certain positions, we were able to kind of pick up where we left off and go from there, and it was important to get that feeling of confidence.''
Coach Wade Phillips insisted after practice Tuesday that he ``hadn't decided how much everybody will play'' against the Vikings.
Still, it's unlikely that the starters will play very long, if at all. Romo was among several starters that didn't play in the preseason finale at Minnesota last season.
``Actually, this might be the easiest week for a lot of guys,'' Terrell Owens said. ``This is obviously an opportunity for all of us, especially for the starters and the guys who are going to go into the season full steam ahead, to kind of get our legs back, get refreshed and then be ready to go next week.''
Owens said he wasn't sure how much, if any, he would play.
Romo and T.O. are among seven Pro Bowl players back on the offense, with the only significant change being Barber starting instead of relieving. Running back Julius Jones left in free agency, without any attempt by the Cowboys to keep their former top pick.
``Last year, we came out of the gate pretty good in that first game,'' Romo said. ``We're a pretty veteran group, experienced, especially offensive. I think we'll be OK.''
Romo passed for 345 yards and four touchdowns in the season-opening victory over the New York Giants last September. He went on to set team records with 4,211 yards and 36 TDs, and the Cowboys tied a team record by winning 13 games.
The primary offensive concern in the preseason finale is to determine who will replace injured left guard Kyle Kosier, who could miss the first month of the regular season with a right foot injury sustained against the Texans. Pat McQuistan has been in that spot at practice this week, but Phillips said Joe Berger and Cory Proctor will also get a chance.
Notes: CB Terence Newman had an interception and another good practice Tuesday, but Phillips said he won't play Thursday night. Newman returned to practice Monday after being sidelined four weeks with a groin injury. ... Rookie free agent DE Marcus Dixon (back) practiced Tuesday and could play his first game Thursday.
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