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Cowboys news: Cooper Rush will try to lock down the QB2 role in preseason

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Rush looking to stay consistent in preseason - Nick Harris,

With Dak Prescott unlikely to play in preseason, Cooper Rush will be in the spotlight.

With Dak Prescott not expected to suit up, all eyes will be on backup quarterback Cooper Rush and third-string signal-caller Will Grier with amplified opportunities available in the preseason.

For Rush, while it does serve as his only guaranteed action throughout the season, he’s approaching the preparation as if it will be necessary reps that he will need in the regular season, similar to how 2022 was for the Central Michigan product.

“You just want to go out there and look good,” Rush said. “You want to be efficient, move the chains, kind of man situations, those kinds of things that show that you can play quarterback. [As a rookie], you were trying to make a team and it’s that same mindset now. Now these are live reps against a real opponent that gets you ready for the season.”

Rush was thrust into the spotlight last season when Dak Prescott went down with an injury in the first game of the year, forcing Rush to start the next five contests. That experience, Rush says, allowed him to find his rhythm a lot quicker as a quarterback to better prepare him for future situations.

“Getting those major consistent reps, kind of feeling what it felt like to be a starter, getting back into that starter rhythm and it’s been a while since college,” he said. “You got back in that rhythm, understanding what you need to do physically and what you can do in the offseason to work on that. Those are all big.”

2024 NFL quarterback predictions: 19 teams with starter questions - Dan Graziano, ESPN

ESPN predicts the future for the Cowboys and Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys chose to restructure Prescott’s contract this offseason for 2023 cap relief rather than extending it with two years remaining. The main reason was that they had more pressing extension work to do for Trevon Diggs (done) and CeeDee Lamb (not quite yet). But the result is that, barring a surprise deal we don’t currently see coming, the Cowboys will head into the 2024 offseason with Prescott at the top of that to-do extensions list.

Cowboys decision-makers have consistently said publicly that they’re committed to Prescott long term and they believe in him, and the behind-the-scenes conversations I’ve had with people in that building all say the same thing. There’s absolutely not one concrete reason to believe the Cowboys won’t extend Prescott’s contract at some point.

Most likely outcome: The Cowboys and Prescott agree on a contract extension next offseason.

Long shot outcome: The two sides have the same fight about contract length they had in the 2020 and 2021 offseasons, they’re unable to get a deal done next summer, and Prescott heads into the final year of his contract without an extension. I’m sorry, I know everybody loves Cowboys drama, but I have to be honest about what I’ve heard: I don’t see any way Dallas moves on from Prescott, and I don’t see him holding out even if there’s no deal done.

Cowboys RB Rico Dowdle on being No. 2 on depth chart: Biggest opportunity of my life - Charean Williams, PFT

RB2 is a big open spot for the Cowboys, Rico Dowdle hopes to stake his claim.

Dowdle, who signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2020, has played only 20 career games with seven carries for 24 yards and four kickoff returns. As a rookie last season, [Malik] Davis had 44 touches for 224 yards and a touchdown.

Now in his fourth year in the system, Dowdle has earned praise from coach Mike McCarthy.

“Rico has probably had some of the most impressive pass pro pickups so far this camp,” McCarthy said this week, via Patrik Walker of the team website.

Dowdle lost most of last season to a hip injury, seeing action in only five games and losing the No. 3 job to Davis by default. So, he is ready to show what he can do beginning in Saturday’s preseason game against the Jaguars.

“Biggest opportunity of my life,” Dowdle said. “To back up [Pollard] and get that No. 2 spot, I’ve been here four years, so I’m looking for the competition and the battle, and the opportunity that comes with it being in that No. 2 role. . . . Looking forward to showing what I can do.”

3 Cowboys UDFAs who could make the roster with a strong preseason - Mauricio Rodriguez, A to Z Sports

Cowboys fans are always waiting for the next big UDFA breakout.

Last year was no exception as the Cowboys had three UDFAs making the initial 53: TE Peyton Hendershot, S Markquese Bell, and WR Dennis Houston.

As we approach the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, let’s explore the three rookie UDFAs most likely to make the cut come August 29th.

1. RB/FB Hunter Luepke

One of the most expensive undrafted rookies this year ($200,000 in total guaranteed money, Top 10 in the NFL) and a staple power back in FCS football for North Dakota State, Luepke has what it takes to be Mike McCarthy’s fullback. He can block well but can also get the job done as a pass catcher enough for him to generate match-up problems consistently.

That last part is key as the modern NFL fullback needs to be a solid pass-catcher to warrant a roster spot. Through the first few weeks of training camp, it sounds like Luepke’s top competition is tight end Sean McKeon, who’s also spending a lot of time as a blocker in an H-back-type role.

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