Apparently, the Dallas Cowboys saw enough this preseason to move on from Garrett Gilbert as the backup quarterback behind starter Dak Prescott. Gilbert got three starts in the preseason but clearly struggled against pressure and failed to move the offense. Cooper Rush, who got the start against Jacksonville in the final preseason game, has been announced as the 2nd string QB for the Dallas Cowboys.
Rush was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and spent a few months on the New York Giants practice squad last season. He was re-signed this year to compete for the job with Gilbert and Ben DiNucci, a seventh-round pick by Dallas in the 2020 season. DiNucci will be subject to waivers, however, Gilbert will likely be signed to the practice squad. As a veteran player, he is protected from waivers.
In preseason play, Rush threw 29 completions on 46 attempts. Over four games, Rush accumulated 272 yards and two touchdowns while throwing zero interceptions. In his only preseason start, Rush was tasked with facing off against the Jacksonville first-team defense while playing primarily with second-string offense players. He connected on only 50 percent of his passes but made sure to take care of the football, throwing it into the ground and out of bounds when the play wasn’t there.
“I just think that he’s shown that he can run the complete offense,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday. “Credit to him, he had some tough competition. Those guys didn’t cut him any slack. He’s had a lot of rep – a lot of our quarterbacks have, because of the absence of Dak.”
Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle fracture and dislocation in Week 5 last season that allowed at-the-time backup Andy Dalton to get starting time. Dalton failed to impress and is now fighting for a roster spot in Chicago.
Early in training camp this season, Prescott suffered what was described by the team as a “baseball-type” shoulder strain that limited his participation in practices and kept the star QB from throwing for several weeks. The downtime was an excellent opportunity for the Cowboys to evaluate the talent they have to determine who gives the team a real shot should Prescott’s health deteriorate during this season.
While roster cut day is seldom a definitive day, the Cowboys don’t appear to be overly interested in finding a replacement backup. Jones has said this preseason that he wants to avoid the kind of situation that came up last season when the team paid around $3 million for Dalton who won only four of nine games. Rush is due $920,000 this season.
For now, Rush will hold on to the QB2 spot, while Gilbert is almost certainly headed to the practice squad. DiNucci’s fate is unknown, and with little more than shaky film to show off, he may be hunting for somewhere else to play.
Cowboys fans hope that Rush’s preseason totals are the only real game action he sees this year unless of course he comes in and hands the ball off in a blowout win or two, but for the time being, the Cowboys staff seem entirely comfortable with him handling backup duties this season.