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Cooper Rush’s Return a Sign for Andy Dalton’s Absence on Sunday

Quarterback Andy Dalton’s status for this week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles has been in question all week following his concussion injury last week in Washington. Yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys brought back last year’s backup QB Cooper Rush and it’s a pretty strong sign that Dalton will be absent this Sunday.

Dalton left in the 3rd Quarter last Sunday with a concussion following a dirty hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic. He has remained in the concussion protocol through yesterday and missed all practices.

Of course, Andy’s a veteran and would likely be trusted to play even on no practice if he gets medical clearance. But bringing Cooper Rush back to Dallas is telling of the team’s optimism, or lack thereof, for that to happen.

This isn’t to say that Rush will be sliding in at the top of the depth chart. You would expect rookie Ben DiNucci to get his first career start this Sunday if Dalton doesn’t play.

This move feels more about what happens if DiNucci now gets injured, or just has significant struggles. The Cowboys’ only other QB right now is journeyman Garrett Gilbert who they just signed two weeks ago.

If a QB change is required on Sunday, Dallas may feel like Cooper Rush’s familiarity with the system gives them a better chance at success.

Cooper Rush
Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush

Cooper Rush spent 2017-2019 as the primary backup to Dak Prescott. He ascended to the job midway through his rookie season, taking it from now-offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

This offseason the Cowboys could have retained Rush on a modest deal as a restricted free agent, but instead looked for more experienced depth in Andy Dalton. The strategy made sense given the team’s Super Bowl aspirations at the time, but we’re in a much different place now in terms of goals and expectations for 2020.

Still, the NFC East is highly winnable as potentially the worst division in NFL history. Even with just a their third win of the season, the Cowboys could retake the lead with a victory this Sunday over the Eagles (Washington is on bye).

All of that aside, part of me wonders if this isn’t also about some Cowboys decision-makers still wondering what they had in Cooper Rush. He never got a chance to play in a real game thanks to Prescott’s durability.

Rush took the backup job in 2017 thanks to a dazzling display in the preseason. That regressed somewhat in 2018 but he looked very capable again last year.

Jason Garrett still thought enough of Rush to snatch him up in New York this offseason but he was released from the Giants’ practice squad a few weeks ago.

Clearly, Rush is still on someone’s radar with the Cowboys. It could be as simple as trying to cover bases in the wake of Andy Dalton’s injury and potential COVID-19 issues, but perhaps there’s a little more to it given Cooper’s history with the team.

Where Cooper Rush falls on the depth chart in the coming weeks, if he’s active at all, will really tell us what the Cowboys are thinking.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. Bringing back Rush is pure laziness and possibly part of management being scared over its total failure at assessment of other team’s free agents. Rush proved he cannot play. Cut by Dallas and cut by Garrett in NY.
    Also, by my reading, he is in the covid restrictions and is not available for Philadelphia.

  2. At this point I feel the Cowboys are looking for people they can plug in without much time consumed in getting them up to speed with the scheme. With the line in it’s current state the likelihood of Dinucci getting beat up is high. I think the Cowboys would like to have a player like Rush available who has some experience in this offense and with these players. To me that is all that is happening here. Time will tell if he is needed or has any real ability to play. After his nice preseason a couple years ago he barely saw any action so who really knows what he can or can’t do.

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