Jameill Showers Tackling Move To Safety: "I Can't Eat Like A QB Anymore"

FRISCO, Texas – There were moments in training camp last summer when the only quarterbacks on the Cowboys' practice field were Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers.

Kellen Moore's season-ending leg injury the first week of camp made Prescott and Showers the first candidates to back up Tony Romo. The rest, of course, is history.

The backup job, and eventually the starting job, became Prescott's. Moore is now Prescott's backup. Romo is now in the CBS broadcast booth.

And Showers is now a full-time safety, a conversion he's making at the coaches' request after two years playing multiple positions on the practice squad.

"That was the talk that me and Coach (Jason) Garrett had in October whenever he first asked me to move was, we want you to focus on safety because you do well there and it'll give you a chance to move up on special teams," Showers said. "He was like, 'We don't want to put you in a position where you're a jack of all trades, master of none situation.' I definitely respect it and I'm trying to work hard for it.

"I'm excited about it. I think it'll give me more opportunities to play, especially special teams, things like that. I think it just kind of puts more on my resume as far as a football player, even if things don't work out here or wherever. Or even if they do, I'll have more that I can do. That's what I heard is the more you can do, the longer you stay type of deal."

The Cowboys have always liked Showers' football talent and his approach to the game. They originally signed him in 2015 as an undrafted quarterback out of UTEP and immediately noticed his proficiency on special teams.

He competed for a backup quarterback spot in 2015 and 2016, often with the third-string offense, and completed 44 of 94 preseason attempts for 443 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

On the practice squad he split time between quarterback and special teams meetings and played everything from quarterback to safety to receiver to running back in practice -- whatever gave the team the best look for a particular opponent during the week.

"For a guy to be able to compete to be a quarterback in the National Football League, be able to play on special teams and then transition to safety, it really says a lot about him athletically. But equally I think it says a lot about him as a person," Garrett said. "He's embraced every opportunity we've given him. He's really helped our team the last couple of years. He's embracing this opportunity. He's changed his body a little bit. And I think you've seen him get better and better right before your eyes. He's a really smart guy, he's got good awareness. I think that can help him on the defensive side of the ball."

The club currently has two undrafted quarterbacks, Cooper Rush and Austin Appleby, on the 90-man roster. Moore knows the offense and has the faith of the coaching staff, but he's coming off surgery that sidelined him all of last season.

Did the Cowboys give any thought to moving Showers back to quarterback this year to compete again for a backup spot?

"Not really. We just want to give him a chance to play safety," Garrett said. "He's done so many different things for us over the last couple years during the season to help our team. We just feel like that's the right thing for him to do. We gave him a pretty good shot at quarterback last year, and we made that decision to move him back there and really give him a chance to make the football team."

As a first-year veteran, Showers was eligible to participate in the rookie minicamp in early May. He's had to transform his body for the position switch. At quarterback his playing weight was 230-232 pounds. He's about halfway to his 215-pound target weight.

"I can't eat like a quarterback anymore," he said. "That's tough."

He still throws during free moments, but he's focused on his backpedal now. It's a challenging conversion because he hasn't played defense since middle school when he lined up at middle linebacker.

After losing veteran safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox to free agency, the Cowboys added depth this offseason by signing veteran Robert Blanton and drafting Xavier Woods in the sixth round.

There's competition. But Showers will give it his best effort.

"It's going well," he said. "Still a little bit of a learning curve as far as seeing things on the field. On offense you kind of memorize plays and memorize rules and things like that. On defense you have set rules and you have to react off what the offense does. Right now it's just being able to get out there and see it in walkthroughs and on the field and stuff like that."

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