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Is Jameill Showers Forcing His Way Into The Competition To Become Tony Romo's Backup?

It is very, very, very early, but there are signs that Kellen Moore may not have the QB2 job locked up after all.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
Does Showers have a real chance at the QB2 job?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Let us be perfectly clear. Right now, the Dallas Cowboys are running around in helmets and shorts, limiting contact, and above all trying to get through the OTAs and minicamp with no further injuries while getting the recovering players as close to 100% as possible. The media is only allowed to watch the practices on Wednesdays before minicamp, so the information flowing out is less than marginal. We are a long, long way from knowing the final shape of the roster. There is absolutely no reason to get excited by what is happening during these first practices, where there is as much concern with refreshing the veterans' knowledge and familiarizing the newbies as anything.

Of course, we are fans, so forget all that reason and logic. Sometimes, you see a bit of information coming out of the OTAs that makes your eyes widen and the heart pound a little faster. That was the case in going through Bryan Broaddus' notes from practice at the mothership, where this was the last item.

Hearing some whispers from those in the know that through two days of OTAs – Jameill Showers has been the second-best quarterback on the field. In watching him during practice, I thought his accuracy and poise were outstanding in the opportunities he received.

That may be a very thin reed indeed, but could this be a sign of hope that there is a serious challenge to Kellen Moore as the backup for Tony Romo? There is no secret that one of the biggest unsettled issues for the Cowboys has been backup quarterback. It is probably second only to how the team is going to generate pass rush in the level of discomfort it generates for us. After what happened last season when Romo was injured, the need for a QB2 that has a certain level of competence is obvious. Last season, Dallas went through three options, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Moore, without any of them demonstrating they could keep the team from sliding into the abyss. Weeden and Cassel are both gone, of course, but the Cowboys have clung to Moore, and with no veteran backup being signed this year, he is the number two by default. Although he had some flashy stats in the final game last year, those were very suspect, thrown up against a Washington team that was protecting its starters for the playoffs. There is a lingering suspicion that Moore is hanging onto his job at least partly because he is a personal pet cat of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan was apparently instrumental in bringing Moore to Dallas from the Detroit Lions, where Linehan had coached him.

The failure to find a veteran upgrade for QB2 has been widely discussed, but it is notable that Weeden and Cassel both have new gigs in the league, despite the dismal jobs they did with the Cowboys. It must be admitted that they were not working with the best situation, with top receiver Dez Bryant either out or limited by injury the entire time they were leading the team, and the running back situation going through some turmoil as Joseph Randle was self-destructing and the offensive line having to adjust its blocking scheme to effectively utilize Darren McFadden. Still, the ease with which two failed backups found jobs that come with seven figure salaries is an indication of just how hard decent quarterback talent is to come by. Rolling with Moore may be as much a tacit admission that the team is going to have to grow its own as anything. Drafting Dak Prescott is a further nod to that approach, but with the ever-growing gap between college and pro offenses, it is highly unlikely he will be anywhere near ready to become the next in line behind Romo by the start of this season. He looks a lot more like the backup plan for 2017 and beyond.

The problem is that Moore has not shown much evidence of having a legitimate NFL arm. He seems limited to short and medium throws. That severely restricts the offense, especially one with a weapon like Bryant, as well as letting the opposing defense largely ignore the deep threat, making it easier to concentrate on shutting down what the Cowboys can throw at them. Despite Linehan's professed faith in Moore, real doubt exists as to whether he can ever be adequate on the field.

That leaves only Showers as a possible alternative. It was a little surprising when the team announced that he was not only being kept on the roster, but he was no longer going to be used in a special teams role, allowing him to concentrate on the quarterback position. In 2015, Showers built up some good will with the staff by his hard work doing whatever they needed him to on the scout team. It led to his promotion from the practice squad to the 53-man roster for the last couple of games, which earned him some extra money even if he didn't see the field. Still, his role for this year seemed to be more as a camp arm, with a likely shot at rejoining the practice squad during the regular season.

But could there be more to it than that? This also came out of the first media day at OTAs:

Sometimes Jason Garrett says and does things to set the tone, such as having McFadden as the number one running back to start OTAs although everyone and his or her mother knows that the plan is for Ezekiel Elliott to be the starter against the Giants when Dallas opens the season. But he also sometimes states simple facts. Given the previously cited limitations that Moore has, this could be a signal that Showers is involved in a real competition to become the QB2. If he beats Moore out through his performance, it will just help the team. There is no reason to think he could lose more games than Moore, who has, of course, never quarterbacked a win in his career. Moore may be bumping against his ceiling as a player already, which would be a low one indeed. Showers potentially has much more upside, and turning into a true NFL backup may not be out of the question for him. Given his UDFA status, that would be a significant achievement in and of itself.

But the immediate value to Dallas is more germane. Since Prescott is going to have a roster spot because of the investment in him, and the Cowboys are highly unlikely to carry more than three quarterbacks, Showers and Moore are fighting for the same position, with one of them facing the prospect of being waived at some point. With the veritable desert of backup quarterback talent, the Cowboys need to have the better of the two win the job, preferably in convincing fashion. As extremely early as it is, Showers looks to have taken the first step in that direction. Getting to this point looked like a very long shot before the OTAs, but now Showers may have a real shot at unseating Moore.

For some of us, that is an exciting idea, indeed.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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