IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo threw a short pass and took off running Wednesday, doing the half-speed drill that starts most practices for the Dallas Cowboys.
After that, the sore-thumbed Pro Bowl quarterback also did everything else he'd usually do in practice except take direct snaps.
The NFC East champion Cowboys (12-2) expect Romo to start Saturday night at Carolina.
"He seemed to get better and better as the practice went along as far as his thumb and throwing the football," coach Wade Phillips said. "It looks like he's going to play to me."
Phillips had anticipated Romo sitting out portions of practice, but Romo didn't have any problem gripping the ball and exceeded expectations. Backup quarterback Brad Johnson didn't get any more snaps than he'd usually get.
"I thought maybe we would hold him out of some of the things if he couldn't throw all the passes," Phillips said. "But he threw long passes, he threw outs, he threw comebacks, he threw short passes. He's still a little bit sore, basically on the follow-through with his thumb."
Romo will likely have a different center on Saturday. Andre Gurode, selected this week as the Pro Bowl starter, isn't expected to play because of a damaged left knee that was heavily wrapped while he watched practice on Wednesday.
Cory Proctor, a third-year player, likely will get his first career start Saturday. Proctor replaced Gurode in the second half of the Cowboys' 10-6 loss Sunday to Philadelphia, but didn't appear to have any exchange problems with Romo.
Although Romo didn't miss a play after injuring his throwing hand early in the second half against the Eagles, he had one of the worst games of his career. He was 13-of-36 for 214 yards with three interceptions and didn't throw a touchdown for the first time in 18 games.
Romo didn't talk to reporters on Wednesday, never appearing in the locker room for his normal midweek briefing. He also didn't talk Tuesday.
When the team stretched on Wednesday, Romo appeared to avoid putting pressure on his right hand. But once drills started, Romo was participating with the starters. He threw some soft tosses before a couple of crisp passes to Terrell Owens during the short portion of the two-hour practice opened to the media.
Phillips said Romo's throws were accurate throughout practice.
"I think he really progressed a whole lot today. I was worried about that certainly," Phillips said. "I still continue to worry a little bit, but I thought he wouldn't be able to throw the ball the way he did today. ... I feel better about it.
Phillips also said backup safety Patrick Watkins (sprained left ankle) won't play Saturday. Keith Davis will start in the place of the suspended Roy Williams, and that leaves rookie Courtney Brown as the only backup safety.
Receiver Terry Glenn participated in 7-on-7 drills but not the team period Wednesday, which led Phillips to say he was "less inclined" to think Glenn would make his season debut against Carolina. Glenn is trying to come back from two operations on his right knee in a six-week period after training camp opened.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press