With Tony Romo's status day to day because of a back ailment, the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday brought back a name from the past to serve as insurance at the quarterback position: Jon Kitna, who will serve as the team's third QB.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters he remains hopeful Romo will be able to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, but added that Romo seemed uncomfortable. Romo did not attend practice or team meetings on Wednesday in order to receive treatment.
"I saw him briefly today, and he's fighting through it," Garrett said. "He's certainly in a situation where he's trying to do everything he can to get himself back with the rehab process and treatment process, like any injured player would. He's a tough guy, as we saw the other day. We'll just see how he does."
To make room for Kitna on the roster, the Cowboys waived kick returner Micheal Spurlock.
The 41-year-old Kitna last played in the NFL in 2011, and he announced his retirement in January 2012 after a 15-year career.
Kyle Orton would start at quarterback for Dallas on Sunday against the Eagles if Romo does not receive medical clearance. Romo reportedly has a herniated disk that will require back surgery.
Garrett said the Cowboys would not risk Romo's long-term health to play Sunday.
Kitna started his career with the now-defunct Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe in 1997 and had stints with the Seattle Seahawks, whom he led to the playoffs in 1999 with a 9-7 record, the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
He retired with a 60.3 completion percentage for 29,745 yards, 169 touchdowns, 165 interceptions and a 77.4 passer rating. As a starter, he compiled a 50-74 record.
Since leaving the NFL, Kitna was teaching and coaching in his native Tacoma, Wash. Garrett said Wednesday that Kitna contacted the Cowboys about a tryout.
Garrett was surprised that Kitna wanted to come out of retirement. He asked, "Are you serious?"
Kitna responded, "Absolutely."
---There's no guarantee that quarterback Josh McCown would return to the Chicago Bears next year if starter Jay Cutler ends up going elsewhere.
Family is the most important factor for the 34-year-old veteran, and that ultimately will be the determining factor in his football future.
McCown and his wife, Natalie, live in North Carolina with their four children and he does not like being away from home during the season, particularly during the Christmas season.
McCown stepped in this season when Cutler was injured and the Bears have a 3-2 record when he starts. He has a 109.0 passer rating, completing 149 of 224 passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception.
Cutler will start for the Bears on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in a game that will decide the NFC North champion and a playoff berth. McCown, who becomes a free agent after the season, will serve as the backup.
---The Green Bay Packers spent Christmas Day opening presents, while also wondering about what will happen the following day.
No, they're not figuring out which gifts they'll return Thursday. Rather, they should have a clearer picture of the condition and status of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and rookie running back Eddie Lacy for Sunday's biggest game of the season, at Chicago against the Bears.
The winner goes into the playoffs, while the loser will go home and miss the postseason.
A determination on Rodgers, still recovering from a broken collarbone, is expected Thursday whether he'll start Sunday's game, or at the very least, be available to play if needed.
Likewise is the case for Lacy. He has rested his sprained ankle for over a week and is getting closer to being able to play, according to media reports.
One thing is for sure: linebacker Clay Matthews is likely not only out for Sunday's game, but potentially for the playoffs -- if the Packers make it that far. Matthews broke his thumb for the second time this season and will likely be replaced at outside linebacker by a tandem of Mike Neal and Andy Mulumba, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Neal has been held out of practice at least twice for each of the last several weeks just to let his body recover, the product of being in the game for nearly 700 snaps thus far this season. But with his week's holiday schedule -- the Packers had Monday and Wednesday off -- he'll likely practice Thursday and perhaps Friday.
The Packers thought their season was over after the loss to the Steelers, but with the Eagles routing the Bears, Green Bay has a second-chance to make the post-season this Sunday in Chicago.