IRVING, Texas - Tony Romo's broken little finger has become a big issue for the struggling Dallas Cowboys.
The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who wanted to try to play last week despite the broken pinkie on his throwing hand, said yesterday he now doesn't expect to play again until at least mid-November.
"I don't know when I'll be back," Romo said. "I think definitely the idea now is to get healthy by that bye week."
That means Romo would miss at least two more games: Sunday at Tampa Bay and the following week at the New York Giants. The Cowboys (4-3), who have lost three of their last four games, then take a week off before returning Nov. 16 at Washington.
After being limited in his only practice last week, Romo was still listed as the backup quarterback Sunday at St. Louis.
While the pain was tolerable, Romo couldn't take direct snaps. And because of the protective splint on his hand, he needed an extra two to three seconds to get a proper grip before making throws.
"I wouldn't have been able to play at any kind of level that would have helped this football team," Romo said.
Brad Johnson will start again for Dallas, this time against the Buccaneers, who had him as their starter when they won the Super Bowl six seasons ago.
Coach Wade Phillips said Brooks Bollinger, released by Minnesota at the end of training camp and signed the day after the season opener, will be Johnson's backup this week.
Johnson, the 40-year-old backup who made his first start since December of 2006, was 6-of-18 for 66 yards and an interception before halftime. He finished 17-of-34 for 234 yards with a late touchdown in the 34-14 loss against the Rams.