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Roster Rundown: Weeden Made Most From Extended Reps; But Is Backup Role Safe?

*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features quarterback Brandon Weeden.*

Name: Brandon Weeden
Position: Quarterback
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 228
Experience: 3 seasons
College: Oklahoma State

Key stat:While he played two games in the middle of the season when Romo injured his back, Weeden came in for one series against the Colts in Week 16. His only pass of the game was a 43-yard touchdown strike to Terrance Williams, giving Weeden a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the game.

Contract Status:Signed through 2016.

2014 Impact: In a season where the entire roster had a hand in the division title and playoff run, I was disappointed in what I saw from the one opportunity that Brandon Weeden had as a starter. I honestly expected more, considering the way he had played in the preseason and then later in the season coming off the bench the previous week against the Redskins. What was surprising is that he actually played better coming off the bench than he had when he had a week to prepare for the game -- which was confusing to me. To be fair there was a shakeup along the offensive line due to injuries, and Patrick Peterson was able to hold Dez Bryant in check, which didn't help him. But Weeden struggled to really get anything going and they lost the game. What I have always thought about Weeden is that when many others were not willing to give him a chance, I was willing to take that chance because you can see the physical tools. His size and arm strength are two traits that really jump out. He really can throw a pretty ball and that gave me hope that he could be a big-time quarterback in this league. What I have learned about him this past season is that when things appear to get turbulent around him, he will struggle to be that thrower I thought he was -- the Arizona game showed me that. I also have questions about his decision making, which goes along with his instincts and anticipation. He is really the opposite in what they have in Tony Romo in that regard. There is no doubt that the physical side of the game is so important to the success of a quarterback, but there is also that mental side. Having watched Weeden in Cleveland and now here in Dallas, I am wondering if he has that side.

Where He Fits: Weeden will once again be in the mix for the backup quarterback role with the Cowboys in 2015, but as I wrote earlier in this series, I expect that we will see more from Dustin Vaughan going forward to see if he can take that job from Weeden. My gut feeling is that these coaches and scouts know what they have in Weeden, where they are not so sure with Vaughan. If Vaughan doesn't make that jump, then we will see Weeden unless there is a possible replacement that becomes available.

Writers' Analysis:

Nick Eatman: I think the Cowboys are in good shape at the backup spot. If they go out and draft a young quarterback in the middle rounds, I think it'll be to replace Dustin Vaughan, not Weeden, at least for this year. Overall, I thought Weeden did a pretty good job, considering all of the circumstances in 2014. He probably took more snaps than any backup quarterback in the league, dating back to the summer when Kyle Orton was sitting out and Tony Romo was being held out. Then Weeden took most of the Wednesday snaps, as well. Everyone remembers the Cardinals game he started, but I would like to think he might look a little better if had the benefits of Doug Free and Ron Leary in the starting lineup against one of the best defenses in the league. Clearly, he's not Romo, but he shows that he's ready and he can step in – like he did against Washington – and have some success. Backups are backups for a reason but he's a smart guy that knows his role and will probably only get better, learning from the likes of Romo, Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and veteran QB coach Wade Wilson.

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