IRVING — So what if Tony Romo can't play? Kyle Orton's got this.
That's the feeling inside Valley Ranch, where the Dallas Cowboys have thrown their full support behind their backup quarterback. The Cowboys are not about to concede a win-or-go-home game against the Philadelphia Eagles just because their starting quarterback isn't expected to play.
"Keep going, man," Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said Wednesday. "I mean, we lost a great quarterback, unfortunately. But we've got all the faith in the world in Kyle. He's a starting quarterback. He's a pro. He knows how to handle it."
Romo continued to get treatment on the herniated disk in his back, coach Jason Garrett said, but Romo's discomfort remains, despite receiving an epidural injection.
"He certainly doesn't seem overly comfortable," Garrett said. "He is clearly working his way back through it."
The Cowboys mostly mentioned Romo in the past tense Wednesday.
They are moving forward without him, as Orton took first-team snaps and newly signed Jon Kitna ran the scout team. It marked the first time Orton has worked with the starters since the off-season when Romo was out after having a cyst removed from his back.
Nonetheless, Orton insists he's ready.
"As the backup, that's your job — to be ready to go whenever it is," said Orton, who has five pass attempts this season. "I think the guys got a lot of confidence in me. I know
I've got a lot of confidence in myself, and I'm excited to play."
Between them, Orton and Kitna have played 215 games, made 193 starts, thrown 44,406 passes and 250 touchdowns. However, the two have combined for only 15 pass attempts the past two seasons and have a combined career winning percentage of 44.0.
But it's who the Cowboys have this week, so their faith lies in them.
"Losing Romo is going to be a big loss to us," cornerback Morris Claiborne said. "But we have Kyle, and he's going to step in. We've been around him and seen the things he's done in camp and during the season in practice, so we believe in him, and you know he has a big arm; he's smart, and he can read the defenses as well."
Orton, 31, had chances to go elsewhere in the 2012 off-season but chose instead to back up Romo. The Cowboys gave him a three-year, $10.5 million deal, with a $5 million signing bonus, as insurance.
They now are cashing it in, with their playoff hopes riding on his right arm.
"I fall back on my experience," Orton said. "I've played a lot of games in this league and had some success, so I'm just excited with the group of guys I've got around me.
"I don't really feel like I've got to go out and do too much. Get the ball to the playmakers. Get the ball to 29 [DeMarco Murray], 82 [Jason Witten] and 88 [Dez Bryant], and let those guys go to work."