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Kitna doesn’t spell doom for Cowboys’ receivers

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Posted Nov. 01, 2010 @ 6:07 p.m. ET
By Michael Blunda

It goes without saying that the fractured clavicle of Tony Romo is horrible news for all those owners counting on him as their starting quarterback. But what about everyone with Cowboys pass catchers on their roster? Are their hopes shattered as well?

If last Sunday is any indication, the answer is "no." While Jon Kitna is no Romo, he is one of the better backups around, and he showed that against the Jaguars. Don't pay much attention to his four interceptions — two of them weren't his fault. Look instead at his number of attempts (49), completion percentage (69.4) and yards (379). Looks awfully similar to Romo, right?

True, Kitna's performance came against one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but he also showed well in Week Seven vs. a top-notch Giants "D." He's unlikely to be a fantasy stud, but the 38-year-old gets the chance to make a fantasy impact for at least the next month, and possibly the rest of the season if Romo doesn't return.

While the starting QB's absence would seem to be a bad thing for all the Dallas receivers, that's not necessarily the case. Dez Bryant actually has seen his fantasy value rise with Kitna at the helm. The rookie had two TD grabs against the Giants, then followed it up with 7-84-0 last week. Now a bigger part of the offense, he quickly is becoming a weekly start with huge upside.

TE Jason Witten's role also has increased since the QB change. With one TD catch through the first five contests, Witten has scored in each of the last two games and has 19 grabs for 192 yards in that span. He's a trusted safety valve for Kitna, meaning his targets should be substantial in weeks to come.

Then there's Miles Austin, who has disappointed in 2010 with a boatload of drops. But his seven catches for 117 yards Sunday is a good sign that he'll continue to produce. You have to stick with him and just hope that he remembers how to hold on to the ball.

Really, only the Dallas running game could take a significant hit without Romo. Defenses won't respect the pass as much, so Felix Jones and Marion Barber could find running room hard to find. Owners won't be able to have much faith in them.

The Cowboys' schedule gets tougher, but they have shown that they'll at least move the ball, even if scoring points proves difficult. An eventual Romo return would be nice, but they can hold their own while he's gone.

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