Rush to judgment: Cowboys QB could be surging to backup role
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Cooper Rush isn’t likely to duplicate Dak Prescott’s remarkable rookie year with the Dallas Cowboys.
The undrafted quarterback is doing quite an impersonation in the preseason though — enough to get him second-team looks ahead of veteran Kellen Moore in practice this week and raise the question of whether the former Central Michigan standout could land the backup job for good.
Rush’s exhibition numbers look strikingly similar to those of Prescott a year ago. And everyone knows what happened next: Prescott starting for an injured Tony Romo, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and ultimately sending Romo into retirement.
Since Prescott is a healthy 24-year-old who looks as if he could be the face of the franchise for years, that’s probably where the similarities will end with Rush. Not that the 23-year-old redhead — four months younger than Prescott — is consumed by such thoughts.
“I’ve got a long, long way to go,” Rush said. “Every day, every snap I’m learning something new. I’m watching Kellen, watching Dak and trying to soak it all in.”
Much the way Prescott did at the LA Coliseum in his preseason debut last year, Rush made an impression in the Hall of Fame game. And like Prescott, he kept on performing.
Rush, who threw for nearly 13,000 yards as a four-year starter at Central Michigan, has a 125.2 passer rating through three games, completing 69 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The difference is that Prescott did most of his work against starters, and Rush has faced second- and third-teamers.
But if he enters Saturday’s preseason game against Oakland before Moore — a possibility based on rotations in camp this week — Rush could line up against opposing starters for the first time.
“I think he understands how you play this position. It’s from the neck up,” Prescott said. “When you play this position from the neck up, no matter your ability, no matter what others say, you give yourself a chance to put the ball where it belongs, just be ahead of the defense.”
The Cowboys found a 10-year face of the franchise in an undrafted Romo. Then they ended up with Prescott as a fourth-round pick last year after trying to trade for a second selection in the first round to get Paxton Lynch, who went to Denver instead and still hasn’t won the starting job.
A similar stroke of luck with Rush will amount to the jackpot on a slot machine, and a personnel piece that not many franchises have — a spare quarterback with what appears to be the ability to win in the NFL.
“These guys have a great makeup, all of our quarterbacks do as far as the intangible qualities,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “And intangibles, just so you know, are things you can’t measure. It’s not arm strength, it’s not height. It’s just knowing how to play.”
Linehan’s background with Moore , and the Cowboys’ belief that the undersized former Boise State star is a viable backup, made the No. 2 issue mostly moot barring injury this camp.
But Moore hasn’t been nearly as efficient as Rush, and his fumble last week gave Indianapolis a defensive touchdown. It’s not inconceivable that Dallas’ top two quarterbacks could have one season of experience combined.
“We went into the season with a rookie quarterback last year and I don’t know that that was part of the plan to begin with,” Linehan said. “As long as guys are ready, the age of them isn’t as big a concern as you’d think.”
And the question of where he is on the depth chart doesn’t concern Rush at all.
“I’m still focused on making the 53,” Rush said, referring to the final roster. “That’s been my No. 1 goal, and staying true to that goal is what’s helping me keep progressing, keep improving.”
All of it has a familiar ring to the Cowboys.
NOTES: OL Chaz Green returned to practice Wednesday, a day after missing the late portion because of dehydration. ... DE Charles Tapper is out with a neck injury that coach Jason Garrett says is unrelated to the back injury that sidelined him his entire rookie season.