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A New Backup Plan At QB; Update On Andy Dalton


FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys (2-6) will field their fourth starting quarterback of the season when they kick off Sunday against the undefeated Steelers (7-0).

Whether it's Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush remains to be seen. But head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the coaching staff will decide between those two veterans in place of rookie Ben DiNucci, who started for an injured Andy Dalton in last Sunday's loss to the Eagles.

Dalton was in concussion protocol last week and was ruled out against Philly. This week, he's on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

DiNucci completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards with two lost fumbles in his first NFL start last Sunday. This week, facing the NFL's fifth-ranked defense, McCarthy decided "with the opponent that we're playing we need some more experience at that position."

The Cowboys signed Gilbert off the Browns' practice squad Oct. 13, two days after starter Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Giants.

Rush, a Cowboys backup from 2017-19, was released in May after the club reached a one-year deal with Dalton. But the Cowboys signed him to the practice squad last Friday while Dalton was in concussion protocol.

Gilbert and Rush have been in the league several years, though both have only three career pass attempts.

McCarthy said he'd like to make a final decision on this week's starter by Saturday.

"Garrett Gilbert has been here for a couple of weeks, he's had a chance to play in preseason games. Just has more experience. And no different with Coop," McCarthy said. "Coop played last year, is very familiar with the system. (Offensive coordinator) Kellen Moore has a lot of confidence there. We're going to let those two guys (practice), we're going to go through the week and then make a decision."

McCarthy provided a brief update on Dalton, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

"He's doing fine. We'll see how he goes throughout the time he's on this COVID list, but I think by the end of next week we'll be able to see him again," McCarthy said.

The Cowboys' bye is scheduled for next week.