The Cowboys are dealing with a major question going into Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season. Is Dak Prescott playing in the Cowboys’ “Sunday Night Football” game against the Vikings?
Prescott is dealing with a calf injury and is considered questionable for the game. He wants to play, but the Cowboys may exercise caution if he’s less than 100 percent.
As such, that has brought up another key question for Cowboys supporters. Who is Dallas’ backup quarterback?
Last season, Andy Dalton held down that role. He, Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci combined to start 11 games for the Cowboys. However, the Cowboys’ QB room underwent a lot of changes during the 2021 offseason and none are on Dallas’ 53-man roster in 2021.
So, what does the Cowboys’ depth chart look like behind Prescott now? Here’s a look at who could replace Prescott if he’s unable to suit up against the Vikings in Week 8.
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Cowboys QB depth chart
Every NFL fan knows who is on top of the Cowboys’ quarterback depth chart. Beyond him, there are a couple of names that will be familiar to die-hard fans.
1. Dak Prescott
Stating the obvious, Prescott is the Cowboys’ starting quarterback and the only thing that will change that is an injury. He’s one of the many quarterbacks that is putting up high-end numbers to begin the 2021 NFL season and he could be in the MVP mix if he continues to play well.
Prescott has only missed 11 games in his NFL career, all of which came last year. He had started 72 consecutive games (including the postseason) before he went down with that injury. So, the 2020 season appears to have been an anomaly.
2. Cooper Rush
Rush is in his fifth season as a member of the Cowboys. He signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and spent his first three seasons serving as a depth option behind Prescott. Rush was waived in 2020 after the Cowboys signed Dalton, and he had a brief stop with the GIants. He spent nearly five months on the Giants’ 90-man roster and practice squad before returning to Dallas.
If Prescott can’t start against the Vikings, Rush would get the call in his first real opportunity to prove himself at the NFL level.
Rush, 27, has never started an NFL game and has completed just 1 of 3 career regular-season passes for 2 yards. He also has two carries for 13 yards. That said, he was solid during the 2021 NFL preseason and completed 63 percent of his passes for 272 yards and two TDs.
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3. Will Grier
Grier is yet another young quarterback that the Cowboys have stashed on their roster. He was a third-round pick out of West Virginia by the Panthers in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was chosen with the 100th selection overall.
Grier, 26, started two games for the Panthers as a rookie and he struggled. He completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 228 yards and threw four interceptions. He didn’t record a touchdown. The Panthers waived him among their final cuts before the 2021 NFL season and the Cowboys scooped him up to compete as a developmental passer.
During his college days, Grier played at both Florida and West Virginia. He was a strong passer and completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,894 yards, 37 TDs and just eight interceptions in his final year with the Mountaineers. He played in a quarterback-friendly spread offense, so perhaps he just needed some time to adjust to the NFL. He’s getting that as a third-string option, and he also has a good opportunity to learn from Prescott.
4. Ben DiNucci
The Cowboys are keeping DiNucci around, but he is on the team’s practice squad as a No. 4 quarterback right now. DiNucci started one game for the Cowboys last season and performed mop-up duty in another. He completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 219 yards and ran for 22 yards on six carries.
DiNucci played Pittsburgh and then moved onto FCS powerhouse James Madison. He is still developing and proved last year that he wasn’t ready for the limelight when forced into action.
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Could the Cowboys sign Cam Newton?
The Cowboys’ backup quarterbacks aren’t very experienced. Dallas showed they valued that last season when they signed Andy Dalton following his release from the Bengals, so naturally, people were curious about whether they’d sign Cam Newton after the Patriots released him.
However, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy ruled out that possibility shortly after Newton was cut.
“I think he has a ton of football left,” McCarthy said of Newton, per NFL Network. “But we’re very excited about the group that we have.”
That doesn’t rule out a potential reunion, but it doesn’t seem likely that the Cowboys will sign Newton unless they lose a key player in their quarterback room. Perhaps if Rush doesn’t impress if he has to start in place of Prescott, the Cowboys could pursue Newton. For now, though, Cowboys fans shouldn’t expect him to sign in Dallas.