With reports that Dak Prescott could be out a week or more of training camp and miss preseason games with a right shoulder strain, the rest of the Cowboys’ quarterbacks will be getting extra work and against tougher competition. Could this lead to Dallas reconsidering its decision not to add a more experienced backup for 2021?
While MRI results were negative for any major injury for Prescott, word from the team is that they will be taking a cautious approach with their franchise QB. Even though this has nothing to do with the lower leg injury that caused Dak to miss most of 2020, any health risks in late July and early August aren’t worth gambling on.
This means Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci will all be getting more reps and opportunities to play with and against better competition. After being treated as the primary backup since the start of camp, Gilbert played with the starters yesterday in Dak’s absence.
Of course, if Gilbert performs well in practice and in whatever preseason action he gets then it will likely solidify him as QB2 going forward. But this unexpected opportunity to see Garrett practice with the first team, and especially against the starting defense, could go another direction.
Remember, Gilbert only played in one regular season game last year for Dallas and barely has any NFL playing time since being a 6th-round pick in the 2014 Draft. He saw far more action in eight games in the Alliance of American Football than he has his entire NFL career.
If Garrett struggles now there’s little reason to think that Cooper Rush or Ben DiNucci would fare better. In fact, some of the reports out of camp thus far have indicated that none of the current QBs are looking good.
Dallas already kicked the tires on a few veteran free agents in May, visiting with Jeff Driskel and Brett Hundley. Driskel eventually signed with Houston while Hundley remains a free agent.
Also on the market now is Blake Bortles, recently released by the Packers after Aaron Rodgers finally reported to camp. While there are plenty of jokes made at his expense, the former 3rd-overall pick has had his moments and helped get Jacksonville to the AFC Championship Game in 2017.
Again, it’s too early to hit the panic button without seeing what Garrett Gilbert does in the big chair. But with this reminder about how quickly circumstances can change at QB1, the Cowboys may be more invested now in securing better depth behind Dak Prescott for the regular season.
If Gilbert doesn’t inspire confidence quickly, a move at quarterback probably won’t be far behind.