NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

Ronald Leary questionable for Sunday

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31
IRVING, Texas – In addition to quarterback Tony Romo, left guard Ronald Leary is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leary has not practiced this week, but he said he is feeling much better and was able to do more running Friday than he did all week.

“It’s going to be a game-time decision,” Leary said. “I didn’t practice any this week so that was big, but I did some more moving around today and I’ll do some more tomorrow, then I’m going to get up Sunday and do more and judge it on how I feel. That’s going to decide if I play or not.”

It is possible Leary could be active but not start, with Mackenzy Bernadeau taking over as the starter.

Linebacker Rolando McClain (shoulder), cornerback Brandon Carr (hamstring), linebacker Bruce Carter (finger), defensive end Jack Crawford (calf), defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee, foot) and right tackle Jermey Parnell (chest) are probable. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey did not practice because he was sick, but he is also probable.

Right tackle Doug Free will miss his third straight game with a foot injury. He could return Nov. 9 when the Cowboys play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, but with the bye week after that game the Cowboys could choose to keep him out another week.
IRVING, Texas -- Outside of talking about the status of quarterback Tony Romo, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones discussed a potential position change for one of his best players: Sean Lee.

 Jones, speaking to 105.3 The Fan on Friday said Lee, the Cowboys' starting middle linebacker, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, could change positions.

Jones said Lee could move to weakside linebacker, a spot where Justin Durant, who is now out for the season with a torn biceps muscle, played.

"That's really going to be hard," Jones said of losing Durant. "That's quite a loss for us, he plays a key spot, that weakside linebacker in what [defensive coordinator] Rod Marinelli and [assistant head coach/defense] Monte Kiffin want to do with this system. It's probably likely, and we're probably getting ahead of ourselves but it's where Sean Lee will end up. That's when you got a guy who can play that way, he becomes next to what they call the three-technique or quick tackle on your defensive front, your pressure player, that guy comes right there with him as an important player."

The thinking of moving Lee, who has yet to finish a 16-game season due to injuries, allows him to take on fewer blockers by playing the weakside.

At middle linebacker, he faces guards and centers on nearly every play. With Lee out for the season, the Cowboys have started Rolando McClain at that position, but he's retired twice in his career and prior to this season, there was concern about his commitment to the game.

After the solid start to the season, McClain's commitment hasn't been an issue, still the Cowboys have to be cautious regarding the middle linebacker position if Lee doesn't start there in 2015.

Of course, the team could move Anthony Hitchens to that spot, and he's performed at all three linebacker positions this year. Durant's solid season and now his loss, in addition to how McClain is playing, raises some interesting questions.

"Durant has been that for us and to a lot of peoples surprise, he's really come onto his own," Jones said on 105.3. "Having said all that, we're going to miss him. He had his best game ever last week as you read about and heard about. We're going to not be able to replace him heads up."
IRVING, Texas – One game does not make a trend, but the Dallas Cowboys know the Arizona Cardinals will try to emulate what the Washington Redskins did against them Monday.

Passing game coordinator Scott Linehan, however, did not like the suggestion that the Cowboys were exposed by Washington. The Cowboys were able to beat the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints when they brought pressure.

“We’ve defeated the blitz all year,” Linehan said. “We got sacked a couple of times last week that was disappointing, but the fact that we were able to have the long runs that we’ve had and the average per carry we’ve had, and the average per attempt we’ve had, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve done it consistently all year. Not as well this last game, but all year we’ve been pretty good at it.”

The Cowboys had few answers for Washington’s pressure and it led to Tony Romo being sacked a season-high five times. The Cardinals are a heavy blitz team as well, but they don’t bring the Cover 0 blitzes as much as the Redskins where the cornerbacks have no help.

“I don’t think that’s Arizona’s tendency, although you’ve seen it,” center Travis Frederick said. “They have it. We know they have it, so they might bring it out.”

The Cowboys believe they will have the correct answers this week whether Romo plays or if Brandon Weeden has to start.

Frederick said the good that came from the Washington game is that it can get corrected in a hurry.

“It gets you a chance to see that, find where your flaws are and fix it,” Frederick said. “It’s finding the leak before it explodes I guess. You could say the pipe exploded last week but as long as you get it fixed, you get a patch on it. Hopefully we can make it so nobody is coming through this week.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are doing all they can to make sure Tony Romo will be protected if he can play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Romo has not practiced this week and it is not clear he will be able to do so on Friday, but the Cowboys’ equipment staff is sewing added Nike Combat gear protection into the undershirt Romo wears on game day. They have done similar things for other players for extra protection.

Romo has worn a rib protector since he became the starter, and when he suffered a punctured lung and broken rib, it was fortified with Kevlar. He also wore a specially designed vest as added protection for several games that year as his rib healed. He already has an longer-than-normal back plate for more protection after undergoing two back surgeries.

Coach Jason Garrett has said the team has no hard and fast rules about whether a player needs to practice in order to play. Romo has talked about the importance of practice leading into a game, but he has played without a practice before.

If it happens again this week, the Cowboys want to make sure Romo has extra protection.
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant underwent season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a significant tear in his right biceps.

Durant, the Cowboys' leading tackler, thought about avoiding surgery with the goal of returning in December, but the team's medical staff said it wouldn't heal in enough time.

"I wasn’t going to be effective," Durant said. "And the way that I play, it was going to be impossible for me to play with the type of tear that I have. The trainers talked to me about it and we decided that was the best thing to do."

Durant wanted to get the surgery done as quickly as possible so he could start the rehabilitation process. What makes the injury even more difficult is the uncertain future for Durant.

He becomes a free agent after the season and there's no guarantees the Cowboys will bring him back.

"I’ll just leave that up to people in front offices to decide, let my agent handle everything that comes with free agency," Durant said of his future. "I just play."

The team likes rookie Anthony Hitchens, who most likely will see time at the weakside and middle linebacker spots, and even Durant has praised him.

"He has all the ability and he has young legs," Durant said. "He’s going to be a force once he gets a little more experience. We all get better with experience. The more and more he’s out there the better he’s going to be, so I have full confidence in him. I’m definitely going to be here as much as I can to help him out."

As far as his own future, the 29-year old Durant was unsure. Health has been an issue for him since he signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys in 2013. He played in 10 games last season before he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

He was off to a solid start this season, and received one of the highest production grades given to a linebacker this season at 37. Normally a player might receive an 18 or something in the 20s as an example of a high grade.

"I just want to play," he said. "I’m just sad right now but I know that guys are going to step up and we’re going to be alright."
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's session with a sore shoulder.

 Quarterback Tony Romo (back), left guard Ronald Leary (groin) and tackle Doug Free (foot) missed practice.

The Cowboys, preparing for the Arizona Cardinals on a short week, didn't practice in helmets on Wednesday but did so on Thursday.

Also, suspended defensive tackle Josh Brent practiced for the first time.

He saw limited work on Wednesday but was able to get scout team action Thursday.
IRVING, Texas – Few would have pegged Sunday’s meeting between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals as so important in terms of the NFC hierarchy.

The Cardinals (6-1) have the best record in the conference and lead the NFC West. The Cowboys' winning streak ended Monday, but their 6-2 record has them in first place in the NFC East.

These former division rivals have played some zany games, with two of the past three meetings going to overtime and the other decided, in part, because of a missed extra point.

ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer offer up this week’s game preview:

Todd Archer: A lot of people are waiting for Tony Romo to falter after his strong start, aided by a great running game, and I think a lot of people are waiting for the same from Carson Palmer. Why is this a different Palmer and is it as simple as Bruce Arians keeping it all together?

Josh Weinfuss: I think the Carson Palmer you see now is partly the result of him being more mature and more comfortable with his lot in football, as well as the Bruce Arians effect. Palmer fits Arians’ scheme perfectly and Arians has tailored his play calling to what Palmer does well. And Palmer also has a talented corps of receivers, a fast back in Andre Ellington, brutish tight ends who can block and get out for a pass here and there, and an offensive line that has done a great job at keeping him clean -- not necessarily pressure-free, but clean -- and combined, that’s helped Palmer play the best he has in years.

How will coming off a short week and now coming off a loss impact the Cowboys after what looked like to be a pretty physical game?

Archer: It’s all about Romo. He missed two series in the second half against the Redskins because of a bruised back and was limited in practice. This is a tough matchup anyway, but it’s even tougher on a short week. Romo's injury wasn’t the only one. Justin Durant is out for the year with a torn biceps and Ronald Leary suffered a groin injury. Jason Garrett does a good job of getting his team to move on from the good or bad, but this test could be different because of Romo’s health. He was held out of the offseason because of back surgery last December and did not practice more than two straight days in training camp. He has taken Wednesdays off since the second game of the season to make sure he would be ready for game day, so his schedule has not been thrown too far out of whack, but the Cowboys have to make sure the issues they had against the Redskins’ pressure were more about a bad night than something that will expose them for the rest of the season.

Todd Bowles was a secondary coach here under Bill Parcells and has been a head coach candidate for several jobs. What has he brought to the Cardinals' defense, other than having some really good players to work with?

Weinfuss: Bowles hasn’t won so much with his players as much as his scheme. He’s playing with just two of his front seven from last season -- and that number was one for the past couple of weeks while Calais Campbell was out -- so while players help, it’s what Bowles has been able to do from a schematic standpoint that has been the deciding factor. But if I had to choose one thing that Bowles brought to the Cardinals, I’d go with a No. 1 and No. 1A. No. 1 was a slight change to the previous 3-4 scheme Arizona ran, and that was getting rid of the multiple-gap responsibility. This is now a single-gap scheme, and guys love it. And No. 1A is pressure. Bowles loves to blitz, as was clear on the last drive against the Philadelphia Eagles. It has been working so far.

Last season, Bruce Arians was adamant about not putting too much responsibility in the run game on Andre Ellington, in large part because he didn’t want him to wear down in his first season. Granted, DeMarco Murray is at a different stage of his career, but he’s still a running back getting significant carries. How much of a concern is it that the Cowboys are riding him too much?

Archer: There’s some concern about it, and they have rested him at different times for a series or a few plays in the first half of the past three games, but he is their bell cow. He is their guy. They will be mindful of how much work he gets, but he’s too good to take off the field for extended spells. They like backup running backs Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, but those guys can’t do what Murray does in the run and pass game. He doesn’t look like he’s wearing down. He had 19 carries for 141 yards against the Redskins, so his carries were down from what they had been. But I’d maintain he took more of a beating in that game than he did when he had 29 carries in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Jason Garrett was around Emmitt Smith for the bulk of his career, so I think he has a watchful eye to this sort of thing, as does Scott Linehan, who was around Steven Jackson in St. Louis. They will be smart with Murray, but not to the point that it costs them games.

I know Larry Fitzgerald. I know Michael Floyd. I didn’t know I needed to know John Brown, too. Has he changed the dynamic of the Cardinals’ offense any?

Weinfuss: He has, and it’s been a lot more than people realize. With Brown, Arizona added a reliable speed option. Palmer and Brown developed a great rapport while working together in Southern California this offseason and it’s just translated onto the field. While Fitzgerald has shown he can make a tough catch in traffic and break free for 80 yards and Floyd can go up and over anyone who challenges him, it’s Brown who can take the top off the defense. He has started showing up more and more on opposing game plans over the last few weeks, but after his game-winning touchdown catch Sunday, I’m sure he’ll be a point of emphasis going forward, which will spread secondaries thin and open up the middle and underneath for the rest of the Cardinals’ receivers.

There’s a lot of hype here, at least, surrounding the Cardinals’ run defense, which dropped from first to third this week. How much of Sunday’s game will come down to the league’s No. 1 rushing offense versus the league’s No. 1 rushing defense? Do you think the passing games will get any credit?

Archer: We talked about Romo’s back injury earlier and that could affect how the Cowboys plan to attack Arizona. I can’t imagine they will come out and chuck it 50 times and leave Romo exposed like that. The Cowboys are a run-first team, so if they’re playing the top run defense or the worst, they will attack the way they have attacked all season. They always say, "It's about us." Well, the Cardinals offer a great challenge to the running game. Teams have been committing eight guys at the line to slow Murray, and they haven’t been able to do it for four quarters. There have been some games that have been more difficult than others, but the Cowboys eventually figure things out and get to the runs that produce big plays. Then they work the pass game off the run game. They are trying to emulate the formula that worked so well in the 1990s. It has worked better than anybody really could have imagined at the start of the season.
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton enters Sunday's game against Arizona coming off one of his best games of the season.

Melton had two sacks, three tackles for loss and was credited with two quarterback hurries in Monday's overtime loss to Washington. Melton, who plays defensive tackle, was moved to defensive end on several plays against the Redskins to create some mismatches.

"It felt pretty good and I was moving around a little bit to trying to give me better looks and I was in position to make some plays," Melton said. "It felt good. It was something we looked at and said we were going to try and do in the game. I did it in practice a little bit and it transferred a little bit to the game."

This isn't the first time Melton was moved to end during a game. When Melton played for the Chicago Bears, then-defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, moved him around the defensive line to maximize his potential.

Melton was signed to become a starter at defensive tackle, but he's coming off the bench behind Tyrone Crawford. Melton was coming along slowly after his recovery from a torn ACL yet he's generating more pressures the past few weeks.

In addition to his two sacks, the first multi-sack game since the 2012 season opener, Melton has five quarterback pressures the last three weeks. If his health continues to improve the Cowboys expect him to have a bigger impact.

"It's an ongoing process," Melton said. "We'll see keeping my reps up and still working through it week-to-week. It felt pretty good."
IRVING. Texas -- Tony Romo's ability to play through injuries played a part in the Dallas Cowboys' decision to reinsert the quarterback into Monday's game against the Washington Redskins despite a bruised back, but Romo was cleared medically.

"Tony's a physically tough person," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's a mentally tough person. That's why you factor in his voice in understanding where he is physically and what he's capable of doing in the game. He has credibility with us. Having said that, it's a medical decision. The people we talked to more than anybody else, was the doctors. Dan Cooper comes over to me and says, ‘He's cleared to play. We got the X-ray, it's negative. We talked to Tony, he's functional, he's moving around. He can go in the game.' That's how we make the decision. We try to take the emotion out of it. The fact that the player is jumping up and down and saying I want to go back in the game, that's a factor, his history, his credibility is a factor, but it's a medical decision and we make it very unemotionally."

In Week 2 of the 2011 season Romo returned to the game despite a broken rib and what later turned out to be a punctured lung to lead the Cowboys to an overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers. In last December's meeting against the Redskins, Romo remained in the game despite pain in his legs from a back injury that required surgery five days later.

Once Garrett got the OK from the medical people, he said there was no consideration of keeping Brandon Weeden in the game.

"From a playing standpoint, Tony is our starting quarterback, so there's no discussion there," Garrett said. "If Tony was capable of playing and if Tony was functional and able to play, Tony was going to go back in when he was ready to do so."
IRVING, Texas -- An MRI exam confirmed a torn bicep in Cowboys weakside linebacker Justin Durant's right arm.

Durant suffered the injury in the second half of the Cowboys overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.

After the game, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Durant was out for the season. Tuesday coach Jason Garrett, as his custom, wouldn't rule out a possible return for Durant but it's doubtful he'll play the rest of this season.

There have been incidences where players didn't go on season-ending injured reserve and recovered from a torn biceps which included former Cowboys' linebacker Ken Norton Jr., and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis torn his triceps in a game against the Cowboys in 2012.

Cowboys guard Brian Waters tore his triceps last season but couldn't return.

"It’s a serious injury," Garrett said of Durant. "We’ve got to see the extent of it. There are degrees to tearing a bicep. It’s a serious injury and we’re going to sort out how severe it is, what degree it is and sort out what the options are and then make our best decision."

Based on the coaches statistics, Durant leads the team with 61 total tackles and is tied with Rolando McClain with four tackles for loss.

"He played really well," Garrett said of Durant. "He was really active in the game, around the ball a lot. He played really well and take a player like that out, he makes a big difference. But the first play Kyle Wilber is in there, he makes the tackle for a one-or-two-yard gain. Those guys have played before and understand what their roles are to go in there and function. I thought he did a pretty good job."

Also starting left guard Ronald Leary suffered a pulled groin muscle late in regulation and was replaced by Mackenzy Bernadeau. Leary's playing status for Sundays game against Arizona is unknown.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Looking for someone to blame for the Dallas Cowboys’ six-game losing streak being snapped? Safety Barry Church pointed the thumb at himself.

“I feel like I played my worst game since I’ve been a Dallas Cowboy,” Church said. “I played terrible.”

 Church, a defensive captain, was particularly upset about a pair of missed tackles. He prides himself on being a sound open-field tackler, but his two whiffs allowed the Washington Redskins to make big plays in their 20-17 overtime win over the Cowboys.

The first occurred on a pass in the flat to tight end Niles Paul on the Redskins’ second offensive play of the game. Church had a chance to make the stop for a short gain, but Paul broke the tackle and picked up 20 yards to set up a field goal.

The second happened on the opening series of the second half, allowing running back Alfred Morris to gain 29 yards, the biggest play of an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

“I missed two wide-open tackles out there, and there were just a lot of missed tackles on the defensive side of the ball,” Church said. “If we want to win and be the defense we want to be, we just can’t let that happen.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys best receiving threat was slowed down Monday night.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant finished with three catches for a season-low 30 yards and one touchdown in the 20-17 overtime loss to Washington. Bryant was targeted just twice in the third quarter, none in the fourth and once in overtime.

There were two plays Bryant should have made that appeared to be drops, including one in the end zone yet Washington doubled him with tight coverage from a cornerback and then used a safety over the top to prevent deep throws for a majority of the game.

The coverages Bryant faced Monday isn’t something new, just part of the deal that comes with being one of the playmakers on offense.

“Shading a little bit,” Bryant said of the safeties who were near him. “A little bit of [zone] and they did a good job.”

Normally when defenses employ tight coverages on Bryant it opens things for receiver Terrance Williams and tight end Jason Witten. Those two combined for 11 catches and 139 yards and one touchdown. According to ESPN's Stats and Information, the Redskins tied a season-high by sending five or more pass rushers on 60 percent of dropbacks against the Cowboys.

Yet with more defenders coming at quarterback Tony Romo it should have cleared things for Bryant one on one.

"We moved him around some," coach Jason Garrett said of Bryant."He made some plays in the game and obviously you get used to him making a ton of plays and making a huge difference."

Bryant's second-quarter touchdown catch was just amazing. He caught a short pass behind the line of scrimmage with one hand. The tip of the ball landed in the cup of his hand and after shaking a defender he carried safety Ryan Clark into the end zone.

Bryant didn't want to talk about the touchdown catch, instead focusing on the loss.

Garrett called the touchdown catch amazing.

"To make the catch that he made and then get in the end zone, it was a pretty special play," Garrett said. "But he gets a lot of attention and he always gets a lot of attention. He's got to fight through it."

On the final play of the game, Bryant was doubled and was able to scramble free with Romo moving out of the pocket.

Bryant was open for a moment near the Cowboys’ sideline but Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland stepped in front to knock the pass away.

“We let this one slip away,” Bryant said. “We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. As a team, we let one slip away. I’m scrambling and trying to get open and try to give him a target, guy did a good job on the ball.”
IRVING, Texas -- The sting of Monday's 20-17 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins is probably not over, but Orlando Scandrick offered perspective in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room following the game.

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesDespite Monday's loss to Washington, Dallas is 6-2 overall and leads the NFC East through eight weeks.
"At the end of the day, let's look at the big picture," Scandrick said. "The first half of the season, we're 6-2."

There is not a Cowboys fan around that wouldn't have taken 6-2 through the first eight games. The Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East by a half game over the Philadelphia Eagles. They have done a lot of things right, but both of the losses have come at AT&T Stadium. And the Cowboys have to hope the Redskins did not expose some flaws on both sides of the ball that other teams will try to emulate.

The good and bad news is the Cowboys will not have a long time to feel bad about the loss with the Arizona Cardinals visiting on Sunday. Players are off Tuesday and will not have a long review -- if any -- of the Redskins' loss. The focus will be on the Cardinals.

"Regardless of what the outcome of this game is, you've got to get on to the next one," coach Jason Garrett said.

Garrett preached the same message during the Cowboys' six-game winning streak and his players were repeating his mantra after the game.

"We're going to pick out the good things we did and we're going to build on them," Scandrick said. "We're going to look at the bad things we did in the game and we're going to fix them."

Said quarterback Tony Romo, "You win, you get 24 hours and you get after it again. You lose, you get 24 hours and you get after it again. That is our philosophy."

That has to make Garrett feel good. He has treated momentum as a play-to-play thing, not a game-to-game thing. Having seen their six-game streak end Monday, the players were upset but not wallowing in dejection.

"You would think it would (affect momentum), but I've never been a part of such a resilient team that just looks forward and doesn't let what happens in the past to be an issue," center Travis Frederick said. "I'm confident this team has the ability to just move forward and let it go."

The Film Don't Lie: Cowboys

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
A weekly look at what the Dallas Cowboys must fix:

Whether or not QB Tony Romo can play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys will have to sort out their pass protection. The Washington Redskins were able to expose the Cowboys on Monday by bringing more rushers than the Cowboys could block in the Skins' 20-17 overtime win.

The Cowboys failed to adjust, either by adding more maximum pass protections or by cutting receivers' routes shorter to compensate for the lack of time. As a result, Romo was sacked a season-high five times and was unable to make plays downfield.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is creative with his pressures and is unafraid to blitz. The best way to beat the blitz is to make big plays. That will make defenses back off. The Cowboys could not beat Washington and may have revealed a flaw in their scheme. Given the copycat nature of the league, the Cowboys will have to be ready for anything from the Cardinals.

"There's systems in place to make these things happen and get them picked up," Dallas center Travis Frederick said. "We just need to get better at that. I always talked about it all along, even when we were winning games, you have to continue to improve at all points. If you ever take a step back, things like that happen."

Brandon Weeden answers the call

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since Jason Garrett took over as the main voice for the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2007, he has placed a premium on having a veteran backup quarterback.

 First it was with Brad Johnson. Then it was with Jon Kitna. From 2012-13, it was Kyle Orton.

Brandon Weeden is the exception to that rule, and the Cowboys have to feel better about their backup quarterback play today than they did before Monday’s loss to the Washington Redskins.

After Orton decided to skip the voluntary offseason program and mandatory mini-camp, the Cowboys decided to part ways with him before training camp, handing Tony Romo’s backup job to Weeden.

In his first action since Nov. 1, 2012 while with the Cleveland Browns, Weeden completed 4-of-6 passes for 69 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten in two series of work with Romo in the locker room because of a bruised back.

“Brandon did a good job coming in,” Witten said. “When you’re in those situations, you can’t blink. Obviously it’s not ideal, but you just trust the system and trust those guys that are coming in.”

With Romo sitting out Wednesday practices to continue to build strength in his surgically-repaired back, Weeden has taken the first-team snaps. He took all of the first-team snaps in the spring as well with Romo recovering from surgery, and he took first-team snaps every third day in training camp.

“Even though it’s a big run install day, it’s nice to get in the huddle, call out plays, get to the line of scrimmage and take snaps, make some throws,” Weeden said of his Wednesday work. “”It’s huge. I was telling [quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson] the other day, I don’t know if there’s a backup quarterback in the league [who] gets as many reps as I do. I need all the reps I can get. You compound that with all the smart minds, the smart quarterback minds we have around here, and I just kind of soak up all the info. I’ve learned more in however long I’ve been here than I learned in four years playing as a starter dating back to college.”

But there was some rust. Weeden wished he could have had his back-shoulder throw to Dez Bryant on the goal line back.

“That’s kind of a timing deal that takes a lot of reps,” Weeden said. “Tony and Dez have done it for years, so I just tried to watch and see how Tony throws it. Obviously, it wasn’t exactly like Tony threw it.”

But Weeden’s effort was a positive overall.

“The job of a backup quarterback is to be ready at any moment without a lot of reps during the week,” passing game coordinator Scott Linehan said, “so I was proud of him.”