FRISCO - When the Dallas Cowboys return to practice here at The Star on Tuesday morning, it will be Cooper Rush - somehow having leap-frogged over Garrett Gilbert - taking the first-team reps at quarterback.
"He has earned this opportunity, absolutely," coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
Is this a shocker? Not exactly, as previous third-teamer Rush outplayed previous No. 2 guy Gilbert in Saturday's 20-14 preseason loss to Houston - though Gilbert has been the front-runner for months, with Rush not a factor until now.
Does this mean Rush - who finished 10-of-12 for 97 yards with two touchdowns in five possessions - is starting this Sunday's preseason finale against visiting Jacksonville?
That's the way some have interpreted McCarthy's position. But that's not what McCarthy said.
We specifically asked him if Rush's first-team elevation is about reps for Tuesday's practice or for the preseason game:
His clear reply: "Practice. Starting with practice. Starting with practice tomorrow."
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So Dak Prescott will continue to "ramp up,'' with some work this week but not necessary team sessions - and the week of the Tampa Bay regular-season opener will work fully and be fine, putting his shoulder soreness behind him. Simultaneously, it'll be Rush vs. Gilbert ... with the slim possibility of Dallas grabbing another candidate from another team's bench, and the even slimmer possibility that much time is wasted on fourth-stringer (and likely practice-squadder) Ben DiNucci.
Sunday's noon kickoff at AT&T Stadium will feature more QB questions, but on the other sideline, where as of the start of the week Jaguars coach Urban Meyer has yet to name No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence as his first-teamer over Gardner Minshew.
Rush has a familiarity with coordinator Kellen Moore's offense, which might be his biggest edge here.
"I've been around it for five years pretty much,'' said Rush, who has bounced in and out of the Dallas program. "So, it's definitely a comfort level. You get a good flow of how he calls the game, kind of what's coming next. As you put in during the week you obviously you don't have to scramble your brain, what's going on, and stuff like that so that you're really comfortable with it."
Maybe Rush doesn't have to "scramble his brains'' here. But the Cowboys do. Backup QB matters, as McCarthy acknowledged after the Texans game, when he said of the decision process, "We've got one more week to figure it out – "and we're going to need it."