Ben DiNucci is back like he never left. Because he didn’t.
News of DiNucci’s signing came on the heels of Dallas presumably securing its new No. 2, Will Grier, who was claimed off waivers from the Carolina Panthers.
The 2021 QB room will consist of Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Grier, and DiNucci. It remains unclear if the club will carry three signal-callers into the regular season.
In addition to ‘Gucci,’ the Cowboys also inked 14 players to their practice squad: running back JaQuan Hardy, fullback Nick Ralston, wide receivers Osirus Mitchell and Brandon Smith, tight ends Jeremy Sprinkle and Ian Bunting, offensive lineman Isaac Alarcón, center, Braylon Jones, defensive end Austin Faoliu, defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, cornerback Kyron Brown, and safety Darian Thompson.
Each player, with the exception of Bunting, was part of Dallas’ training camp roster. They all now return on the 16-man practice team, of which two vacancies remain (the club is granted an exception for Alarcón via the NFL’s International Player Pathway program).
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Updated QB Depth Chart
A 2020 seventh-round selection with one (disastrous) start to his resume, DiNucci was kept around this offseason as a pet project of sorts for head coach Mike McCarthy, who helped handpick the James Madison alum.
As a sophomore, DiNucci showed little improvement in preseason play, completing just 53 percent of his passes while tossing four interceptions and taking four sacks. For context: neither of DiNucci’s challengers for the QB2 job, Cooper Rush nor Garrett Gilbert, committed a single INT, and both moved the offense better.
Following the preseason finale, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones confirmed that Rush — he of a “pretty high bar” — had leapfrogged Gilbert on the depth chart, directly behind franchise pillar Dak Prescott.
“I think that you’ve got to assume that — with his knowledge of what we’re doing offensively, what we’re doing with the existing personnel that we’re going to be opening with – you’ve got to assume you’ve got a pretty high bar here, in terms of what’s the most effective way to play if you didn’t have Dak now,” Jones said Tuesday, via the official Cowboys website.
Considering DiNucci was buried under Gilbert and Rush, Jones’ comments also meant the former had little shot at sticking around on the 53. But the fact that DiNucci was brought back, and Gilbert tellingly wasn’t, suggests a glimmer of hope for his long-term development.
“There could be some fluidity over time, but for now, that gives team four quarterbacks (Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush and Will Grier) in building. That’s a lot in most years. With COVID-19, this isn’t most years,” noted Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
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Despite his audacious nickname, DiNucci is something of a punchline among Cowboys fans due to his consistently lackluster efforts (he does throw a nice side-arm pass, though). So, as one could imagine, his retention isn’t being received necessarily well …