IRVING, Texas – The No. 17 jersey was out throwing routes when the Cowboys reported to practice on Thursday morning – like nothing ever changed.
It didn't come with a lot of fanfare, but just a day after releasing him, the Cowboys re-signed quarterback Kellen Moore to their practice squad. They released offensive lineman John Wetzel to make room on the 10-man reserve team.
Moore was released on Tuesday evening to make room for rookie linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who was activated from the Non-Football Injury list. It ended a six-week stint on the active roster for the former Boise State star, though the Cowboys clearly like Moore enough to keep him at Valley Ranch for the time being.
There's been no shortage of intrigue around Moore, who piled up a 50-3 record during a four-year career in Boise. He worked for two years with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in Detroit, and Linehan helped bring him to Dallas after he was released in September.
Even with Moore moved to the practice squad, the Cowboys still potentially could have four quarterbacks on the roster when Tony Romo returns from short-term injured reserve next week. The team will need to make a roster move to bring Romo back after Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.
The question wasn't even finished being asked, but Rod Marinelli had a quick answer for whether Tyrone Crawford is playing well enough.
"No. No. He's got to, and he knows that," he said. "He's just got to keep working."
The spotlight is undeniably brighter for Crawford, considering the Cowboys signed him to a five-year, $45 million extension just before the season started. The fourth-year veteran has the seventh-largest contract in the NFL among defensive tackles, but he has just five career sacks – with two of those coming this year.
Crawford started his season strong with three tackles and a sack in Week 1, but he has notched just 11 tackles and a sack during the current six-game losing streak.
"I think we really like where he was at the end of last year coming and now he's just got to produce," Marinelli said. "It's a producing position. He knows that. We've just got to keep going."
It's not to say Crawford isn't close. He's currently tied with Greg Hardy for the second-most quarterback pressures on the team, with 14. Much like last year, he's come painfully close to a much higher sack tally. Unfortunately, as Marinelli pointed out, it's a results-driven league – something he said Crawford understands.
"You've got to rise up and you've got to be able to come every down," he said. "I think he's learning that really and his name is out there a little more. They're going to run at him and chip him. That's part of the position."
In the first four games of the season, receiver Lucky Whitehead had just 13 offensive snaps and was then deactivated for the fourth game.
Since getting back to action, Whitehead has been on the field for 56 snaps in these four games, including 16 against the Eagles last Sunday.
Of course, his biggest play occurred on special teams when he returned a kickoff 79 yards to set up a game-tying touchdown. The speed he possessed on that play might actually affect the ways defenses view him and his offensive role.
"Yeah you can see that speed. He has the jets to make plays," Linehan said. "He has the ability to play other spots and do other things. We really like his uniqueness and his role.
Linehan said Whitehead, a rookie from Florida Atlantic, has continued to make progress with each thing the Cowboys put on his plate.
"Each week we give him something and he's really accepted that role well," the OC said of Whitehead. "We've had some designed runs for him and a couple of pass plays. We've asked him to block. He has a role and can help us. It's interesting for us, he's not the biggest guy in the world but he does things that some big receivers don't do. We're really happy with how he's come along."
- Nick Eatman