OXNARD, Calif. — The preseason is quickly approaching as the Cowboys will make the trip home on Saturday to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season's first live action.
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."
A new offense has been one of the main storylines going into the season for the Cowboys, and Rush has been a big reason why the second-team group has been able to pick up the new system with ease.
"Fortunately, there's not a huge terminology change or shift which has been nice for us," he said. "Just enough to make you uncomfortable and you dive back in and study. It's been pretty smooth, a lot of the same concepts and a lot of the same things. The way [McCarthy] has been running it, teaching it, getting to all of the position groups so we can be on the same page has been impressive."
Newly hired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has also been a big reason why the offense has been picking up the new system with efficiency in training camp, as Rush points to him as being the guy that has made a huge impact off the field in conveying information.
"Yeah, he's been great," Rush said. "It's the consistency of what we're taking from meetings to each position group. I think the cohesiveness of the coaching points, the plan and how we're doing things, he's kind of been running that. It's been really impressive. We're on it. I'd say we're more ahead than usual, especially younger guys."
It's been a strong training camp so far for Rush, even with change in the offense and a couple of new faces in the receiving corps. Going into Saturday, Rush will look to keep his strong play consistent at AT&T Stadium.
"Just keep being efficient," Rush said about what he wants to accomplish. "Camp has been off to a good start. That second group we've been rolling with has been really impressive. I'm excited to see those guys get out there with me and start making plays in game situations."
Rush had arguably his best day in Oxnard on Tuesday as he found success on multiple long balls to Jalen Brooks and Dennis Houston, and Saturday will be an opportunity for him to keep his consistency going, even if it is just the preseason.
"Staying consistent. These are live action game reps that you can take into the season. Situational football, you get all of that real game experience."