It took a lot of Dallas Cowboys misfortune for Ben DiNucci to be a few days away from what is increasingly looking to be the first start of his NFL career.
In the NFL, the quarterback is the generally the leader of the team, and few people around The Star would ever question Dak Prescott's leadership capabilities, whether he's injured or not.
But for now, that role may be transferred to a seventh-round draft rookie out of James Madison, a non-Division-1 football program. Whether DiNucci has the talent to win a football game is something he'll have to show on the field. But the first step will be proving to his team he has the confidence to get it done.
Reports suggest he's doing pretty well in that department. Ezekiel Elliott laughed about the swagger and confidence that the rookie had brought to the huddle this weekend. Asked about how he looked on the field, Michael Gallup said, "Dude, he's been slingin' that thing."
DiNucci told the media Thursday that the position requires the kind of attitude that makes teammates believe in you.
"Being a quarterback, you've got to have a little something to you," he said. "You have to have confidence, whether you're a veteran or a rookie."
The man who had led those same teammates to heroic wins and heartbreaking losses was at The Star before Wednesday's practice and in great spirits, according to DiNucci. The rookie walked up to Prescott and joked, "Hey, this isn't what you said my rookie year would be like."
Prescott laughed and gave DiNucci a hug.
"We talked about this," Prescott assured DiNucci. "Go out there and do you. Take completions. Trust the guys around you. Don't overthink it."
DiNucci admitted Thursday he never could have envisioned this scenario, but called it an opportunity of a lifetime. "As a rookie and a seventh-rounder coming in, you see Dak and you see Andy at the top of the depth chart, you think 'There's no chance I'm going to be on the field this year.' But it's 2020, what else do you expect?"
Prescott couldn't have expected to be a 16-game starter his rookie year after being drafted in the fourth-round to back up Tony Romo, but he took his moment and made it his own. DiNucci now has Prescott's advice in his back pocket, and said that head coach Mike McCarthy told him to focus on protecting the ball and everything would be OK.
Sunday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles is quite the contrast from DiNucci's last start at quarterback: the FCS Championship against South Dakota State. But he claims that his mindset isn't all that different.
"Football is football. It's the game I've been playing since I was in 7th grade."