"You try to come up with some kind of a timeline for when the player is going to be available," Garrett said Wednesday. "In Tony's case, the (injured-reserve) term is for eight weeks, and we feel like, given what the injury is and the progress he's made, we feel at this point we don't want to do that.
"We don't want to eliminate him from eight weeks of our schedule. He's making progress. We take his situation day by day and week by week, and we're optimistic he can return."
Romo has played in previous years with a transverse process injury (cracked bones in his back), and Garrett knows not to count him out unless medical professionals tether the veteran to the bench. Romo currently is sidelined due to a compression fracture in his back, which doctors have said limits mobility and can cause rigidity in side-to-side torque action such as throwing the football.
Garrett has stepped back from his comments Aug. 25 when Romo was hurt at Seattle that the injury "is not a serious thing." But with Romo doing light rehab work, the signs of progress are being noted at team headquarters in Frisco, Texas.
Left to be decided is whether that progress moves at a more rapid rate than the Cowboys' playoff hopes deflate.
Prescott had a special preseason: 137.8 passer rating, 78 percent completions, five TD passes, no interceptions and a team-leading two rushing touchdowns. Perhaps this season the Cowboys have more than a hope behind Romo.
Romo is on the shelf, but while projections of six to 10 weeks were tossed around, Garrett only this week allowed Romo would miss Week 1. Some projections are 10-12 weeks due to his third major injury to his spinal area, not including a procedure to remove a cyst from a vertebrae.
Whispers around the team facility Wednesday centered around the Cowboys' game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Oct. 16, but don't ask Garrett to play calendar bingo.
"We just think he's getting healthier," Garrett said. "Initially, when he had the injury, he was pretty immobilized. Over the course of the last week or so, he's gotten better and better and better. He's healing up. Again, we'll take his situation day by day and we're optimistic he'll have a full recovery. I know he's doing his rehab and he's making progress."
Vice president Stephen Jones still has a good feeling about Dallas after training camp and the preseason.
"I really like our football team," Jones said. "Obviously, no one is naive when you lose your starting quarterback for some time, which it's obviously going to be some time. That certainly wasn't in our plans; you certainly hope something like that doesn't happen.
"Obviously, Dak's emergence makes you feel better about having that happen to you because there is a lot of optimism with Dak. Other than that, our team has exceeded our expectations in training camp and guys have performed well and done a really nice job for us. We really feel good about our team."
The Cowboys are able to move ahead without Romo because of the lessons they learned playing without him last season.