In addition to installing the offensive, defensive and special teams schemes, training camp is a time to see how players might fit into the 53-man roster. This season, the Dallas Cowboys have about 20 or 25 spots that will be filled by players that are are involved in fairly open competitions for a job with the team. Most of these are going to be players who will be backups and special teams contributors. The majority of the starters and many of the key backups and rotational players are fairly easy to figure out. It is those down roster jobs that will be determined by camp. During camp, the team can experiment with different players to see how they can be most valuable. A lot of coverage has already been given to how the team is moving Byron Jones and Corey White around between cornerback, safety and dime linebacker. But something that has gotten less coverage is the way the team is using UDFA quarterback Jameill Showers. Dallas Morning News reporter Brandon George is one who has noticed, and he is curious about what the team may be up to.
I'm curious how much the Cowboys are considering finding a spot on the final roster for QB Jameill Showers: It's been interesting to see how the Cowboys coaches have used Showers on special teams. You just don't see quarterbacks in the NFL playing special teams, so the Cowboys experimenting with Showers on special teams units tells me they're interested in finding a spot for him on the roster because of his athletic ability and versatility. Showers worked as the personal protector on the punt team and has also been involved in the kickoff coverage team and kickoff return team. Last year, the Cowboys carried a third quarterback on the roster all season in Dustin Vaughan. He was never active. Would make more sense to carry a third quarterback on the roster who can also help you on special teams or at least gives you an option if someone gets hurt. The Cowboys like Vaughan and how he's developed, but does Showers have the chance to take his third quarterback spot because he can also play special teams?
That is something unexpected. Not long ago, our own DannyPhantom wrote about how Dustin Vaughan may have a big role in the future plans for the team. Brandon Weeden is not any kind of long-term answer for the Cowboys as the backup quarterback, and there has been some speculation about whether the team might want to see if Vaughan can progress enough to take that job. Carrying a third quarterback means you have to give up one other spot. It was thought that the staff may prefer to go with only two if Vaughan looked capably of offering as much or even more potential than Weeden this year.
However, Vaughan is in no way certain to be ready for that this year. As George says, a player who is able to fill some special teams spots might be more valuable than one who is hoped would only stand on the sidelines for the entire season. Is the use of Showers as a potential teams specialist a sign that there is a battle for the third quarterback role? Could this even be a three way battle between Showers, Vaughan and Weeden?
It is not exactly a quarterback controversy with Tony Romo as the starter, but it could be a heated battle for one or two backup positions. It could just be part of the Garrett philosophy to try and have as many players as possible feel some pressure from the players behind them on the depth chart. At this point, that chart is largely notional outside the clear starters anyway. Showers may just be fighting for a chance at the practice squad. But as we have seen with players like Cole Beasley, Ronald Leary and Tyler Patmon, there seem to be surprises emerging in camp every year. Showers is also going to have to show something as a quarterback, but if he is seen as having comparable upside to Vaughan, that special teams ability would have to be considered. And Weeden is not absolutely safe. Two young arms with future potential may be more attractive than keeping one old and not necessarily reliable veteran as part of the mix.
There is absolutely not enough data at this point to make any kind of prediction here, but the possibilities are intriguing. Prior to this, the backup quarterback situation looked fairly stable. Now a joker has been thrown into the deck. It is even possible that the team might consider keeping all four, with Showers filling a special teams spot like Danny McCray did in his first stint with the team. The Cowboys often make some surprising decisions when the cuts are made to get to 53 players. Could one or more of them involve Showers and the backup quarterback positions?