No matter what Ben DiNucci does, it remains Andy Dalton’s offense, so say the Dallas Cowboys.
In a Friday radio interview, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones confirmed that Dalton, assuming he clears concussion protocol, will start in Week 9 against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Well, Andy is our guy. It will be his job when he gets back,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.
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It’s certainly an interesting decision on Dallas’ part, declaring Dalton the presumptive QB1 prior to DiNucci’s increasingly-hyped first NFL start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. If the seventh-round rookie beats the hated divisional rival, how could they justify his removal in favor of a 31-year-old with a fresh brain injury?
Not to mention, Jones’ announcement flies in the face of his praise for the James Madison product, whom he likened to franchise legend Tony Romo.
“You certainly like his movement. He’s a good athlete. He’s got 10-inch hands. He can get his hands around the ball. He can sling it from a lot of angles. Reminds me a little Romo-esque in how he can release the ball from different angles,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, via The Athletic.
Dalton, ruled out after an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit in Week 7, didn’t travel with the team to Philadelphia. He also didn’t practice while working through the concussion protocol and must receive clearance from an independent neurologist, as well as the Cowboys’ medical staff, before suiting up again.
For their part, Cowboys executives are in lockstep on Dalton’s status.
“There’s no question that he’s your ticket. I would expect him to be available and, under these circumstances, be very productive,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan.
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DiNucci Shares Inspiring Advice from Dak Prescott
DiNucci was roaming the halls of The Star on Wednesday, the reality of his situation beginning to take hold, when Dak Prescott bumped into the first-year signal-caller.
“Kind of just walked up to him and said, ‘Hey this isn’t what you said my rookie year was going to be like,’” he joked to Prescott.
This time last week, DiNucci was holding a clipboard for Dalton, expecting another 60 minutes of inactivity. Now he’s suddenly atop the depth chart, replacing the man for whom Dalton held a clipboard not long ago.
“As a rookie and a seventh-rounder coming in, you see Dak and you see Andy at the top of the depth chart, you think ‘There’s no chance I’m going to be on the field this year.’ But it’s 2020, what else do you expect?” DiNucci conveyed to reporters Thursday, via the team’s official website.
In “great spirits” despite his season-ending ankle injury, Prescott laughed off the remark and gave DiNucci a hug. Then imparted a bit of invaluable guidance to the No. 231 overall pick of the 2020 draft, whose starting debut will come in primetime on the road at The Linc.
“We talked about this,” he told DiNucci. “Go out there and do you. Take completions. Trust the guys around you. Don’t overthink it. Football’s football. Don’t try to make it more than it is.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL