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Cowboys training camp positional battles: Cooper Rush vs. Mike White for QB2

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Dak is the guy, but who is behind him?

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys will begin training camp before we know it. In this series, we will look at some key positional battles that could define how successful America’s Team is this upcoming season. Today, we will look at the quarterback room.

We have looked at wide receiver and the safeties, two positions that will play a big role in how successful the Dallas Cowboys are this upcoming season. Will the new faces step up as reliable pass-catchers? Which wideout will emerge as go-to target? For the safeties, how much will Kris Richard impact the secondary, and can the trio of Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier take the next step?

While those two positional groups will have a huge say in how this season goes, we all understand that the quarterback is the most important player on the team. He is the one that sets the tone and has to come through on the big stage.

Whether you are all-in on Dak Prescott or are cautious on the third-year signal caller, there is no denying that he is the guy on the Dallas Cowboys. The front office is prepared to pay him, the coaching staff is building their offense around him, and the players on the team are all drawn to him.

The 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year had a down second-half of last season, but number 4 has been a very good quarterback over the majority of his young career. Prescott realizes he needs to get better, and he is putting the work in with his new targets to make sure 2018 goes better than 2017.

Building chemistry off of the field is important, too.

NFL analyst Bucky Brooks outlined three reasons why the man leading America’s Team will be better this season.

I find it interesting that so many skeptics question whether Prescott can guide the Dallas Cowboys’ offense without a real WR1 on the field. I’ve previously outlined why the offense will function just fine without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, but I really believe Prescott is capable of doing some Tom Brady-like things in 2018, thanks to his increased comfort level with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

With the quarterback intent on getting the ball to the first receiver to come open -- instead of force-feeding it to Bryant -- the Dallas’ offense could look like a ball-movement NBA squad with No.4 playing point guard. Considering the Golden State Warriors’ success with that approach, the Cowboys could see Prescott channel his inner Steph Curry while directing a retooled offense in 2018.

There is no debate on who will be under (or behind) center in 2018, but who is behind Dak Prescott? Let’s take a look at the two quarterbacks battling for the QB2 spot in Kellen Moore’s room.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys passed on drafting a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, opting to roll with Dak and Moore following Tony Romo’s release and eventual retirement; however, Dallas did its homework and inked Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush to a deal in undrafted free agency.

There was not much expected from the 6-foot-3, 216-pound signal caller, but Cooper Rush made the most of his opportunities during the preaseason last August. With Dak sitting out due to obvious reasons, the staff gave the majority of preseason reps to Moore and Rush. The CMU product was definitely the more impressive of the two, throwing for 398 yards and six touchdowns in four games.

Rush’s performance not only earned him a spot on the 53-man squad, but it also gave the coaching staff a reason to roll with just two QBs in 2017. Rush appeared in mop-up duty sparingly throughout the season, and he played well when given a chance.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys did decide to grab a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Thought by many to be a day-two selection, Mike White slipped and slipped in April. When he was still around in the fifth round, Dallas decided to pounce on the former Western Kentucky QB.

White spent time at two different colleges during his collegiate career, beginning at South Florida before transferring to the WKU Hilltoppers. For the Hilltoppers, White threw for more than 4,000 yards as a junior and senior — 4,363 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2016 before tossing for 4,177 yards and 26 scores a season ago.

The 6-foot-5, 224-pound signal caller from the Sunshine State was given a third-to-fourth around projection by analyst Lance Zierlien, thanks in large part to his size, arm talent, and velocity. White was named the C-USA Newcomer of the Year in 2016 and through for 517 yards against the Rice Owls that same season. Where he needs to improve is his pocket awareness, mobility, and going through his progressions.

Kellen Moore was in a battle in this scenario a season ago, but now he in charge of the QB room. The former Boise State signal-caller has been getting great reviews from many for his football intelligence; now is his chance to show what he can do as a coach.

The battle for QB2 will be fun to watch unfold during training camp and in preseason games. While Rush has an upperhand due to his one-year experience and impressive August last year, White has the tools to push the 2017 UDFA.

Ultimately, though, we here at BTB unanimously agree that Dallas will keep all three quarterbacks this season. What says you, BTB — who will win the QB2 title behind Dak?