Kyle Orton and Jon Kitna sat at opposite ends of a couch in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room Wednesday, turned toward each other and stared chatting.
They probably were talking about Dallas' offense.
Orton will make his first start at quarterback in his two seasons with the Cowboys on Sunday night, unless Tony Romo can recover from a herniated disc. Dallas will be playing a winner-take-all game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title and a playoff berth.
Romo was nowhere to be seen in any of the public areas at Valley Ranch. He did not practice, and didn't attend a morning offensive meeting, according to coach Jason Garrett.
"I'm just excited," Orton said. "I think the guys have got a lot of confidence in me. I've got a lot of confidence in myself. I can fall back on my experience. "
Garrett still hasn't ruled out Romo.
"I saw him briefly today. He's fighting through it. He's doing everything he can to get back. He's going through the rehab process.
"We'll evaluate him day to day, the same as most players who are injured."
Belichick blames workout limits
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is blaming recently instituted NFL rules shortening offseason practice time for what he claims to be an increasing number of player injuries.
"I'm in favor of total preparation for the players for the season," Belichick said during a conference call with Buffalo reporters this week in leading up to New England's home game against the Bills on Sunday. "And I think that's been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers."
Belichick said players are more vulnerable to being hurt because they're less prepared, and described the limits placed on offseason workouts including training camp as being counterproductive.
Around the league
Packers • Linebacker Clay Matthews will miss Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title after aggravating a right thumb injury.
Broncos • Though it's unlikely that receiver Wes Welker and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe will play against Oakland in the regular-season finale Sunday, both were cleared to practice after prolonged absences and are working to regain their timing and conditioning.
Welker's practice was his first since suffering a second concussion on Dec. 8. Wolfe hadn't practiced since having a seizure-like episode on the team bus trip to the airport on Nov. 29 before the Broncos flew to Kansas City.
Week 17 schedule
Houston at Tennessee, 11 a.m.
Detroit at Minnesota, 11 a.m.
Carolina at Atlanta, 11 a.m.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.
Washington at N.Y. Giants, 11 a.m.
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
N.Y. Jets at Miami, 11 a.m.
Denver at Oakland, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 2
Kansas City at San Diego, 2:25 p.m.
St. Louis at Seattle, 2:25 p.m.
San Francisco at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.
Green Bay at Chicago, 2:25 p.m.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 2:25 p.m.
Buffalo at New England, 2:25 p.m.
Philadelphia at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5