While attention is firmly on the Week 1 victory by the Dallas Cowboys over the New York Giants on Sunday night, a pool of players continue to work hard almost unnoticed. Days after the announcement of the 53-man roster, the Cowboys added to their practice squad. Effectively these players are free agents, able to be signed onto any teams active roster.
The Cowboys practice squad is heavy with offensive talent. A duo of receivers and quarterbacks are included, with fifty percent of the squad rookies. Here’s the ten players:
- Kellen Moore – Quarterback
- Jameill Showers – Quarterback
- Gus Johnson – Running back
- Vince Mayle – Wide receiver
- Rodney Smith – Wide receiver
- John Wetzel – Tackle
- Dakorey Johnson – Linebacker
- Joe Thomas – Linebacker
- Deji Olatoye – Cornerback
- Tim Scott – Safety
To have a future with the Cowboys, these players could be relying on the misfortune of others. But there’s one that could breakout sooner.
The Cowboys like their undrafted quarterbacks. There is of course Tony Romo. Last year they included the undrafted Dustin Vaughan in their final roster. A lack of progress saw them release the West Texas A&M graduate earlier this year. The raw but exciting Jameill Showers was retained on the Cowboys practice squad after flashing during preseason. With veteran Kellen Moore the most recent undrafted quarterback addition.
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Moore was signed by the Detroit Lions after going undrafted in 2012. In three seasons he failed to make a single league appearance for the Lions, unable to secure a place as Matthew Stafford‘s back up. Moore was one of the many players cast aside as the 53 man roster deadline came around.
Offensive coordinator for the Cowboys Scott Linehan will undoubtedly have played a part in the recruitment of Moore. Linehan formerly of the Lions worked with Moore during many preseason games, and will know just what he’s capable of.
What the Cowboys discovered last year was that if Tony Romo is to go down, the season ends there. What’s perhaps lost on many fans is that’s the case for the majority of teams. Would the Packers be Super Bowl contenders were it not for Aaron Rodgers? Remove Drew Brees from the Saints and their chances diminish. What the Cowboys need is a player who won’t self combust should they be called upon.
I don’t believe Brandon Weeden is as bad as what he’s made out to be. He was way overdrafted by the Browns, and if any team could shatter a players confidence it’s them! The Cowboys do need someone they can rely on though, and up until now he’s not proven it can be him.
The ideal backup would of course be young enough to learn the ropes from Romo, ready to one day take over from number 9. But that’s not an option at present. A player capable of keeping the games ticking over, grinding out wins and maintaining drives when necessary is what it’s all about.
When the Arizona Cardinals lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer last season, Drew Stanton stepped-in admirably. In nine games, he managed six wins. Losses to the Broncos and Seahawks are hardly something to be ashamed of.
Could the Cowboys have a Stanton type player in Kellen Moore? He’s a quarterback that runs through his progressions well, has a nice sharp release and his accuracy is second to none. He does lack some of the intangibles required to be that starting franchise quarterback. He’s considered undersized at 6-0. He doesn’t move with the ball well- don’t expect to see any Romo spin moves from him. It was his arm strength that bothered scouts the most pre-draft however.
"“The biggest knock on Moore is his arm strength, as he doesn’t show the ability to drive the ball down the field with velocity.” – Scout report"
Brandon Weeden’s biggest attribute- his arm strength is clearly the biggest drawback on Moore. However, Moore’s accuracy and reliability would lend itself well to this team should Romo go down at some point.
For now, it makes sense to retain Weeden as the backup. He knows the playbook, the players; he’s taken all the first team reps every Wednesday for the last year while Romo has a rest day. He may not have displayed it in games, but he has to have an edge on any other quarterbacks coming into this team.
What the Cowboys can look for though, is Moore to get his head around the playbook. Show his professionalism and productivity on the practice squad. Then should the time arise, the Cowboys can replace Weeden with Moore.
No Cowboys player wants to even consider one game let alone more with Romo. But Kellen Moore could well be that comfort blanket that the team and fans need.