Turnovers Plague Backup QBs In Loss To Cardinals

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott had the night off, and his backup quarterbacks had several plays they'd like back.

Cooper Rush and Mike White combined for four turnovers, and the Cowboys' offense – a mix of starters and reserves – committed a whopping eight turnovers in a lopsided 27-3 preseason loss to the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium.

With Pro Bowl offensive linemen Tyron Smith (hamstring), Travis Frederick (Guillain-Barre syndrome) and Zack Martin (knee) not in the lineup, the Cowboys opted to rest Prescott and star running back Ezekiel Elliott in a dressed-down version of the annual 'dress rehearsal' game for the starters.

Rush started for Prescott but never found a groove working with the team's regular cast of receivers and tight ends. In one half of work he completed 11 of 17 passes for 93 yards with two interceptions, including a pick-six by Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson on the offense's third series.

Rush tried fitting a pass to Tavon Austin near the sideline, but Peterson read it all the way. It was the first turnover in eight career preseason games for the second-year quarterback.

"Off coverage," Rush said. "(Peterson) dropped in and you've got to know he's going to jump that. Probably should've stayed away from him on that one."

Rush's second interception came in the final minute of the half after he drove the offense inside Arizona's 20. His pass for rookie Michael Gallup in the end zone sailed short and into Budda Baker's hands.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge with the combination of guys that we were playing with versus the combination of guys that they had in the game early," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "They were playing their front-line guys, so we knew it was going to be tough sledding in that situation.

"But again, that's a great opportunity to evaluate a guy, to see how he handles that adversity. Unfortunately for him, turning the ball over a couple times hurt us."

Another offensive drive ended in a fumble by running back Rod Smith. The Cowboys also spotted Arizona seven points with a muffed punt by Lance Lenoir that was recovered for a touchdown. 

Rush won the backup job as an undrafted rookie last season with an NFL-best six preseason touchdowns and no interceptions. In three exhibition games this year, he is 32-of-49 for 275 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

White, the team's fifth-round pick, started the second half and had a statistically-perfect third quarter: 8-of-8 for 71 yards. But a strip-sack and fumble stalled a promising drive at the Arizona 33 early in the fourth quarter. Two series later, White forced a ball to Lenoir on third-and-24 and got picked off.

His final line: 17-of-222 for 157 yards, no touchdowns and two turnovers. Tight end Blake Jarwin also lost a fumble on the opening drive of the second half.

"I did some good things out there that I was proud of and I had some learning experiences that I'm not so proud of that I wish I could have a couple throws back," White said. "But at the end of the day, that's football. You can't go in there playing scared."

The Cowboys have gotten younger at backup quarterback in the last two years rather than investing in a veteran reserve behind Prescott. After the game, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones declined to speculate whether the team might consider altering that approach as preseason nears an end.

"I think anytime you're dealing with a down-the-line quarterback, you realize that you're going to get criticized for not having a veteran in there," he said. "But I like what we are doing. I don't want to get into what tonight did for Rush or White with their status as far as I'm concerned."

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