IRVING, Texas – The speculation about a third Cowboys quarterback continued Monday as the team began the Dallas portion of its training camp.
After catching eyes in the dying moments of the San Diego game, rookie Dustin Vaughan further fueled the issue by guiding two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter against Baltimore. He went just 3-of-7 for 34 yards and a touchdown, and his illegal forward pass flag ended the game prematurely, but it was enough to spark the conversation about keeping a third quarterback on the roster.
"We're going to see a lot of him these next two ballgames, I'm sure," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "We'll see how that plays out, but he could very well."
The Cowboys kept just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster during Kyle Orton's two seasons with the team. It wasn't unusual to see them carry three active quarterbacks in seasons before that, but other needs – particularly on defense – will make that a tough decision this year.
"Keeping three is ideal -- there's always roster challenges to keep three," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "You want guys to run down on kickoffs and play on the punt team, and you want to have an extra guy on your offensive line or your defensive line or a playmaker here or there, so you always have these challenges and you want to develop players at other positions."
Several spots on the Cowboys' roster could coerce them into letting go of Vaughan or fellow quarterback competitor Caleb Hanie. Injuries along the defensive line have left the Cowboys with few proven playmakers, and similarly, the suspension of Orlando Scandrick for the first month of the season could prompt them to add an extra defensive back. [embedded_ad]
"It's a constant back and forth as to how you do this, what's the best reason to do it," Garrett said. "You want to make sure the guy you're investing time in is someone you like – that's a big part of the equation. It'll be a big part of the roster discussion going forward – what you do with that third quarterback."
As a former backup quarterback himself, Garrett joked that he's a big proponent of keeping as many quarterbacks as possible – though he's aware of the roster limitations. He added that experience is probably the most desirable trait in a backup, which is what appears to cement Brandon Weeden as the No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo.
"To bring a new guy in and say 'Hey, you're going to start this week, because we only have two guys on the roster and we have all these injuries,' that's a lot to ask of a guy," Garrett said.
Vaughan said Saturday he'd be thrilled about "any opportunity" he can get, whether that's as a member of the roster or the practice squad. He can likely expect those questions to continue, and fluctuate, based on his play in the final two preseason games.