Two Leaders: How Dalton Is Helping Dak's Cowboys QB Room

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is careful to say all the right things about Dak Prescott's "involvement,'' even as the QB is engaged in his withholding-of-services contract negotiations with team management. But the new coach is also saying all the right things about the presence of fellow newcomer Andy Dalton.

“It’s been good,'' McCarthy said of the addition of the 10-year vet, who comes to Dallas as the backup after his decade of first-team work with the Cincinnati Bengals. "He brings a ton of experience. I'm very impressed with his knowledge base and understanding.”

Dalton, of course, is a three-time Pro Bowler, so his abilities on the field are well-understood. But as coaches have spent the spring communicating with players in only a virtual sense, and with Prescott’s presence limited at best, Dalton has surely come in handy as an "extra teacher'' for the pair of young guys in the QB room, second-year pro Clayton Thorson and 2020 seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci. (He's also opted to speak out on the racism-related social unrest in America. Read here. ... and of course, Prescott has now done the same, in a powerful manner complete with a $1 million pledge. That story is here.)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been a problem for every team in terms of preparation, obviously. Therefore, the shortcut to success in 2020 - a season that will not feature the usual spring work and may not feature the usual training camp work - might be the experience level of key players.

And being the No. 2 QB for an NFL team - "the 12th starter,'' as we like to say - seems pretty key.

Dalton, a 2011 second-round pick out of TCU, is now a 32-year-old who looks to use this season as a springboard to one more contract. He's on a cheap one-year deal at present - a steal for Dallas, as his credentials are impressive for a backup ... making him maybe the best backup in the NFL.

"Dak has played really well," Dalton said recently. "I know the situation I'm coming into. Everybody on the outside might view it that way (as a controversy). Dak's the starter. If he goes down, I'll step in."

And with the QB room in a virtual state and Dak not totally present? Andy Dalton is already "stepping in.'' ... providing Dallas with not just one but two highly-qualified leaders at the position.

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