On the Dallas Cowboys offensive roster, there have been two backup positions that have been the focus of speculation this offseason. One is an obvious one - backup quarterback. Anything to do with quarterback is always a source of fascination, and with Dak Prescott coming off a major injury in 2020, the speculation about his backup was naturally at a high level. That resolution is still unknown although Gilbert Garrett seems to have the inside track, but coach Mike McCarthy continues to uphold the prospects of Ben DiNucci. The backup QB story hasn’t seen it’s final chapter written just yet.
The other backup position on offense that has seen it’s fair share of attention is center. The Cowboys will be relying on Tyler Biadasz as the starter. The second-year player saw some action in the 2020 season as he was in and out of the lineup because of injury and competition from veteran Joe Looney. This year, Looney is no longer in the picture as it’s been reported the Cowboys have no plans to re-sign him. Biadasz is the main man in the middle, but he needs a competent backup. Speculation fell on Connor McGovern or rookie Matt Farniok.
In a surprising move, it seems the Cowboys are going to count on starting left guard Connor Williams as the main backup. Williams has never played center previous to the Cowboys asking him to start taking some reps this spring. Williams was willing.
“Obviously, it’s nice to have depth and versatility on the O-line,” Williams said. “Taking some center reps helps me learn things better and helps with our depth. I was eager to jump in.”
Williams has been taking the second-string reps at center recently during training camp practices. It appears that Connor McGovern or Brandon Knight will be Williams’ main backup should he have to shift over to center for any reason.
Williams has gone from weak link on the line to versatile player who best ability is availability. He was the one who managed to make it all the way through the injury-riddled 2020 season.
There is still work to be done. Williams is working his way through his first foray into being a center. But coach Mike McCarthy has his back.
“He knows the offense,” McCarthy said of Williams, who played all but one of the offense’s 1,147 snaps in 2020; his shoe slipped off for a play in Week 1. “He knows the runs checks. He knows the protections. It’s just the ability to do it at full speed.
“The cadence variations, that’s important. … We do everything to Dak’s cadence, rhythm and timing. It’s the same thing with the center position, so that all has to be in tune. That’s something that frankly just takes reps. He needs reps.”
Williams is in the final year of his contract. Solid play at guard, plus his new role as backup center, just raises his profile on the Cowboys roster. He’s pushing the team to give him a new contract.