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Cowboys Backup QB Battle Intensifies with Preseason Opener

The battle between and for the ' backup job in 2019 has been going on all , from meetings to and now into . But as past years have shown us, nothing moves the needle like games. How will tomorrow's opener against the 49ers, and the rest of the preseason, impact the backup QB competition?

This may simply comes down to which version of Cooper Rush shows up this preseason. Will it be the 2017 version, when an undrafted rookie put on a show that rivaled 's dazzling play a year earlier? Or will Rush have another disappointing run like last August, killing the hype and leaving many wondering if Dallas should sign a veteran backup?

If Cooper falters, can Mike White step up and take over the job? You'd like to think that a 5th-round pick, now in his second year, can at least challenge for the backup role. But we simply haven't seen enough of White to really know what he brings to the table.

What will be interesting to note in preseason games is not just how these guys play but also what opportunities the team gives them.

Any playing time is valuable, but so is getting to play with the right guys around you. Having guys like and Cam Fleming blocking in front of you is a better chance to succeed than if it's and . Throwing passes to is far better than Codey McElroy.

Jon Kitna, Cooper Rush, Dak Prescott, Mike White
Dallas Cowboys QB Coach and QBs Cooper Rush (7), Dak Prescott (4), and Mike White (5)

Back in May, new Jon Kitna said that there would be a “clean slate” for evaluating Rush and White as far as the backup role. Preseason play will be a major factor; seeing how these players execute when the pressure increases.

Even though Cooper has that one extra year of , it's somewhat mitigated by the changes on . has replaced as , and Kitna was added to fill the vacated QB Coach job. Any changes to the offense, plus Kitna's added voice and preferences to the position, are new wrinkles for both Rush and White to work through.

Dallas has reason to root for Mike White in this competition. He has three years left on a cheap rookie deal, whereas Cooper Rush becomes a in 2020. Even the lowest projected RFA tender of $2.1 million would be roughly triple what White is projected to cost next year.

Of course, if Rush is clearly the better player then he's going to keep the job. It's not enough money to override superior skill and NFL readiness, but it certainly would be a tiebreaker if needed.

The Cowboys won't base their decision solely on these games. There are extenuating factors to performance, and all that these guys are doing in and in other practices will be significant as well.

But these preseason games will get the engine going on the hype train. Hopefully the noise is for either Cooper Rush or Mike White's strong play, and not the clamoring for some other quarterback to replace them.

Jess Haynie
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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