ARLINGTON - The Dallas Cowboys have a rich tradition of employing high-quality backup QBs.
They seem in danger of breaking with tradition.
Once we establish that starter Dak Prescott will be fine to open Week 1 at Tampa - and despite the gossip, there is every indication that he will - we turn to what happens if he ever goes down.
“I think (Garrett) Gilbert and Cooper (Rush) have got to continue to work, and they’re fighting for that No. 2 spot,” COO Stephen Jones said this week on 105.3 The Fan in the lead-up to the Saturday preseason visit from the Houston Texans. “Obviously, Gilbert’s got a little advantage there, but they’re obviously working to hold on to that role there.”
Truth is, Rush has done nothing in this training camp to be included on Gilbert's level - and Gilbert's level is far below Dak's. And the backup’s backup, Ben DiNucci? Jones didn't even mention him, though DiNucci - clearly a favorite of head coach Mike McCarthy - likely ends up cut, then back on the practice squad.
There's no Andy Dalton here. Nor is there a Jon Kitna or a Kyle Orton. Or, going way back, a Steve Walsh, a Steve Beuerlein, a Rodney Peete, a Wade Wilson, a Bernie Kosar ...
Will NFL Suspend Cowboys' Kazee for Arrest?
“It’s unfortunate,” Cowboys coach McCarthy says of Kazee's arrest. “We’re definitely aware of everything that went on. It’s a pending legal matter right now.''
Are NFC East Teams Thinking 'We're Close' to Cowboys?
“Defensively, we’re close. Offensively, we’re close. As a team we’re close,'' says WFT's Jonathan Allen, who must not be aware of where Dallas is in the standings.
LISTEN: Zack on Dak; Cowboys 'Already Clinched'?
"Yeah,'' Martin says of Dak. "Until someone tells us different, that’s what we’re going in (thinking).'' Locked On Cowboys: NFC East Look
So it's Gilbert vs. Rush? That's it? Maybe not.
“As I’ve said time and time again, player acquisition is 365 days a year,” Jones said, “and we’re always looking to get better. (Gilbert and Rush) are not only competing against each other, but they’re competing against other people in the NFL ...''
That marks the first acknowledgement all summer that the front office recognizes Dallas, at the QB position, what Jimmy Johnson used to call "hangin' out'' - that is, taking a risk by being short-handed at a position.
Dallas has already stayed away from picking up street free agent Blake Bortles and hasn't poked around a trade for Chicago third-stringer Nick Foles. But those are just two names.
Is there a third-best QB in another NFL city who is better than Dallas' second-best guy? The Cowboys will hope that tonight, Gilbert calms their concerns ... while at the same time, the Cowboys watch other teams this weekend, too - and watch Tuesday's NFL cutdown waiver wire.