FRISCO, Texas – Nothing the Cowboys did over the past 24 hours made me go, "Oh my."
Not for something they did, like keeping someone or cutting someone or claiming someone, or for what they didn't do.
Most was pretty predictable.
That also includes the 13 guys they had released and re-signed to the practice squad, including "Mr. Cake" Isaac Alarcon, his International status giving the Cowboys a roster exemption.
Come on, were you? Were you shocked by any of the machinations to reach a 53-man roster or put together 13 of a 16-man practice squad?
And this also includes the likelihood of moving like six guys off the 53 and onto injured reserve/DTR – designated to return – after being on the 53-man roster for a minimum of 24 hours and then required to miss at least three games. This to make room on the 53-man roster for four of the five guys ready to come off Reserve/COVID-19 and to re-sign punter Bryan Anger and deep snapper Jake McQuaide.
Seriously, there really should not have been any shockwaves created by the handling of the quarterback position behind Dak Prescott. To me, the immediate backup competition between Cooper Rush and Garrett Gilbert was a tossup. That the Cowboys decided on Rush should not have been surprising. Why, for two-and-a-half seasons from 2017-19 he served as Dak's backup. And worked with Kellen Moore and his offense against last year from a spot on the practice squad.
Sometimes you've got to read the writing on the wall.
After Rush's performance against the Texans, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said, "He really took a big step to maybe getting that job."
And on Monday, owner Jerry Jones, after lauding Rush's "consistency," said, "He has shown he can run the complete offense. … All of those things make us feel real comfortable with him." There was just something about Gilbert the Cowboys didn't trust, and why so many teams before them continued to pass on him.
Now then, what about that they claimed Carolina QB castoff Will Grier? No tremors there, really. He becomes the developmental quarterback they were hoping would be Ben DiNucci, though releasing DiNucci and then re-signing him to the practice squad. Doesn't hurt to have a four-man quarterback room during these still COVID-infected days.
This will be Grier's third season in the NFL, starting the final two games in 2019 for the Panthers, leaving the second in the second quarter with a foot injury and spending all of 2020 on the bench. And just maybe the reason Grier ends up here is the reason he didn't stick in Carolina.
He gets beat out for the Panthers' backup job by P.J. Walker, an XFL refugee who played his college ball for now Carolina head coach Matt Rhule at Temple. But maybe Grier's familiarity with Cowboys quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier gave him an in with Dallas, who claimed the former 2019 third-round pick off waivers. Nussmeier was the Florida offensive coordinator in 2015 when Grier started six games before serving a one-year suspension after testing positive for PEDs.
Grier transfers to West Virginia in the spring of 2016, sits out his one transfer season and then plays two superb seasons there, good enough to receive high draft evaluations, even from what I understand the Cowboys. Unfortunately, he was not one of Rhule's draft choices.
And look, he's not here to challenge Rush. They are looking at him as a developmental guy, although he has like one more NFL start than Rush's one. Uh, that's two, the only two NFL games he's played. Just learn the offense. Sit in the room. And again, in this COVID-laced era, nothing wrong with having four quarterbacks in the room.
Oh, and as for those fans of Cam Newton. Look, New England could have kept him as Mac Jones' backup if you think he's a highly-valuable backup. But they didn't, in favor of Brian Hoyer, also released in a procedural move, though the Patriots are expected to re-sign the vested veteran.
Now then, stay tuned. More roster shots to take place on Thursday.
- Let's Go: Training camp is done. Preseason is over. The Cowboys begin a full-court press preparation for their season opener, Sept. 9 against the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Two more practices this week, Thursday and Friday after this three-day CBA mandatory layoff. Then an off-day on Saturday and will commence a regular-season schedule come Sunday through Wednesday, leaving later that day for Tampa. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is big on a week-to-week schedule. So Sunday will be like a Wednesday during a normal week for a Sunday game. Wednesday will be like a Saturday. And as he said, "We need to get as much in between now and the Tampa Bay game, so our focus is on Tampa." Darn right it is. He later added, "We'll do everything we can in that timeframe.
- Could Have Been: What a neat game this would have been, Packers-Saints, Sept. 12, AT&T Stadium. Would you have gone? I sure would have volunteered to cover the game. But the AT&T booking schedule got in the way. The Latin band Los Bukis is booked for a concert on Wednesday, and the setup process needed a three-day lead-in. So the Saints will play that scheduled home game at Jacksonville's TIAA Bank Stadium. That sure beats when Hurricane Katrina caused the Saints season opener in 2005 against the Giants to get displaced to, uh, New York's MetLife Stadium. Some home game, huh?
- Familiar Names: Here is a list of some former Cowboys players sent packing this week by other teams: LB Joe Thomas, DE Everson Griffen, OT Chaz Green, CB Daryl Worley, K Nick Folk, OL Adam Redmond, WR Jon'Vea Johnson and DT Eli Ankou. Also appears former safety Jeff Heath, picked up by the Saints last week, has made their 53-man roster. And did you realize former Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson, who wound up with the Chiefs, playing in back-to-back Super Bowls, was on Jacksonville's roster, actually listed as one of the starting linebackers?
- Mini-Shots: Among the guys the Cowboys signed to the practice squad are Hard Knocks storylines JaQuan Hardy, DiNucci and Alarcon, so guess we'll see them one more time on next week's Episode 5, the final one … Also, defensive end Azur Kamara, while on the initial 53-man roster, might have to give way when veteran defensive tackle Carlos Watkins comes off the COVID list or to make room for third running back Corey Clements, expected to be signed on Thursday. After all, the Cowboys only kept thee defensive tackles, and one of those, Neville Gallimore, is headed to IR-DTR … Wonder if the Cowboys will keep rookie Matt Farniok on the 53-man roster. Thought the converted guard to center has played well. Chances are tackle Josh Ball will go to IR-DTR to make room for Connor Williams coming off COVID. And if something should happen to Williams starting at left guard, that would leave the Cowboys without a backup center to Tyler Biadasz … And didn't it leave your mouth watering watching Mama Parsons on Hard Knocks cooking up dinner for the guys?
Let's turn again to McCarthy for the final word. You know, seems a lot of folks outside the building are dreading the thought of the Cowboys opening the season against the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers on the road in next Thursday's NBC national TV broadcast. But as a player, wouldn't you embrace the challenge?
Says the head coach, "I look forward to it. We talked a little bit (Saturday) night. We started this quest April 19.. There are 300 days that are available to reach a Super Bowl. Everything in between there, you have to keep your eye on the target, one day at a time. First game is the most important game because it's the next game. There's some Coaching 101 for you. I've played that game on both sides of it. On the field in the opening game, it's a kind of energy. So, it's a great game to compete in.
"Our guys, trust me, they're looking forward to it. We can't wait to do it."
Can you? Can't wait to watch it.