FRISCO, Texas — It's been a little over a month since the Dallas Cowboys shockingly pursued former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance and worked a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to trade for the former North Dakota State star, as Lance continues to settle into his new home and new role.
Coming into Dallas, pressure and the need to perform immediately was lifted off of his shoulders and was replaced with something he had never had before: time.
In college, Lance's final "season" saw the NCAA cancel his fall opportunity and it was instead replaced with just one game to showcase his skills ahead of the NFL Draft. Lance did the most with that opportunity and was selected by the 49ers with the expectation that he would play almost immediately.
That didn't end up happening, and instead Lance's clock was ticking from the moment he first got an opportunity to cement himself as the team's starter. When he not only couldn't do that in training camp of 2023, but also not win the backup job, the writing on the wall was apparent for Lance and it led to a trade to Dallas where he was able to regain the thing he never had in his NFL career: time.
That time early on has allowed him to work with quarterbacks coach Scott Tolzien on a day-to-day basis during the season, including on gameday where the two will hit the field roughly three hours before kickoff to go through that week's checklist.
"Scotty always has a checklist," Lance said. "He wants to hit on stuff that we've talked about throughout the week that I didn't have time to get reps on. A lot of different throws and a lot of different reps. It's great for me and I'm thankful for him that he's able to do that for me pregame. I get a great workout in and I have his eyes on me the whole time."
"Just trying to catch up on reps. The footwork and everything is different from what I've done in my past. I'm just trying to get as many reps as I can without OTAs or training camp reps or stuff that I miss out on throughout the week."
Learning the offensive system has been mostly routine for Lance as he's been able to translate a lot of the same language that he had in San Francisco and at previous spots in his football career.
"It's different, for sure," he said. "It's not [a] game-changing [difference], there are similarities across the league from what I know. It's been good to learn. It's been good for me to get a new look and a fresh start. It's a breath of fresh air here."
For head coach Mike McCarthy, the addition of Lance has allowed for the coaching staff to hone in on their teaching and development skills for what the future of Lance could look like with the Dallas offense.
"The timing of his arrival, the transition, you have to have time for that," McCarthy said. "He's putting in the extra hours and that's really the biggest focus. It's to get him learning the offense, terminology-wise, the changes as far as the footwork, different concepts."
"He's doing well. I'm glad he's here, that's for sure. He's a great addition. He does everything. He's part of the quarterback school, he's putting in the extra hours. He's doing everything he's supposed to be doing."
The learning for Lance early on has extended beyond the coaching staff to his fellow quarterbacks in his position room as Dak Prescott has been able to lead by example and in meetings.
"He's a guy that's obviously played a lot of football at a really high level for a long time," Lance said about Prescott. "Just for me to be in the room asking questions, how willing he is to help me out with everything he has going on, I just couldn't be more thankful."
Backup quarterback Cooper Rush has also seen the growth early on from Lance as he sees him as a cerebral addition to their team that has the potential to grow a lot in the NFL.
"He's catching on really well," Rush said. "Just seeing how he asks questions in meetings about the offense and why we do certain things, just seeing his note-taking and all of the work he's put in that way, you can tell he's football-smart and picking it up well."
Respect is something that's paramount as a quarterback, whether that be with yourself or with your teammates, and it's something that Lance continues to earn on a day-to-day basis, but he knows he has work to do on the field to get to where he wants to be.
"The respect part of it is earned," he said. "No matter what I come in and say, actions speak louder than words so I just come and try to put my head down and take in as much information as I can."