DENVER – With backup Will Grier being held out of action Saturday night with a groin injury, this was a great opportunity for Cooper Rush to do exactly what he did last year and take control of the No. 2 spot.
In reality, Grier might have increased his chances of winning the job, without even suiting up.
Needless to say, Rush didn't exactly seize the moment as the offense struggled to find any consistency or rhythm, especially in the first half. Penalties played a big part in the offensive struggle, but Rush was still excited about getting the snaps.
"It was a little choppy out there with (the penalties) and just other things we have to clean up," Rush said. "But still, anytime there's live bullets flying around, it's good to be out there and get those reps. Different situations and different looks come up – things you can't replicate in practice. That's what you build from these games."
Playing the entire first half, Rush finished the game 12 of 20 passing for 84 yards and an interception, totaling a QB rating of just 48.8.
In the second half, Ben DiNucci replaced Rush and was more effective, not only passing for 112 yards and a 99.0 QB rating, but threw the only touchdown of the game for Dallas – a 12-yard pass to Simi Fehoko in the fourth quarter to avoid a shutout.
The scoring drive was 16 plays and 88 yards, engineered by DiNucci, who is entering his third season in the league.
"I'm pretty pleased with how I played," DiNucci said. "I made some plays, put some points on the board. Wished I would've had a couple of throws back. Overall, a solid performance."
The Cowboys will return to Oxnard, Calif. for a couple of days before traveling to LA to face the Chargers for a couple of joint practices before playing the second preseason game – next Saturday in LA against the Chargers.
It's likely Grier will be in the mix for that game, possibly even getting the start. The Cowboys actually have Rush listed as No. 2 on their official depth chart, but that doesn't mean Grier won't get plenty of looks to make it a competition.
Actually, last year, Rush was the No. 3 QB behind Garrett Gilbert but eventually won the backup job based off a better preseason performance.
Started Dak Prescott is not expected to take any snaps in the preseason, so look for a heavy dose of the other three quarterbacks in the next two games.