Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Andy Dalton missed last weekend’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a concussion. But even if he is cleared to come out of the concussion protocol, he won’t be suiting up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to ESPN Staff Writer Todd Archer, Dalton is being placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list, which will prevent him from playing on Sunday.
Dalton—who played 133 games for the Cincinnati Bengals between 2011 and 2019—started two contests after taking over when Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending right ankle injury. But Dalton was concussed by a hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic on October 25, for which Bostic was subsequently fined $12,000.
QB Ben DiNucci Made His First NFL Start Last Week
Thanks to the concussion, rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci started in Dalton’s place on Sunday Night Football in Philadelphia. He completed just 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards (64.6 passer rating) and was also sacked four times and lost two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. DiNucci, 23, is a seventh-round pick out of James Madison University who went to high school at Pine-Richland High School (Gibsonia, Pa.).
After the 23-9 loss to the Eagles, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was surprisingly critical of DiNucci’s first NFL start, appearing on 105.3 The Fan (Dallas/Fort Worth) and saying, “I think that it was a lot for him…. I think we certainly as a team paid the price to have him come in under those circumstances … It was frankly more than he could handle.”
— theScore (@theScore) November 3, 2020
That said, it doesn’t seem like a sure thing that DiNucci will start against the undefeated Steelers (7-0), who feature arguably the best pass rush in the NFL.
Who Else Do the Cowboys Have at Quarterback?
If DiNucci doesn’t start against Pittsburgh, the Cowboys could turn to Garrett Gilbert, currently the third-string QB. They could also call on Cooper Rush, who was signed to the practice squad after Dak Prescott was injured.
On Tuesday Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the team is “seriously contemplating” turning to Rush.
The #Cowboys are seriously contemplating turning to QB Cooper Rush as their starter this week… which would require he get activated from the practice squad, source said. With Andy Dalton down with COVID, it may not be Ben DiNucci again.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 3, 2020
Rush was with the Cowboys between 2017-19, appearing in a total of five games, but he was just 1 of 3 for two yards during those five appearances. Yet as a longtime Prescott backup, he remains intimately familiar with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and his scheme.
As for Gilbert, he was signed off the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns in mid-October.
Gilbert is a former 2014 sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams (Southern Methodist University) and has also spent time with the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers. He has appeared in six career games, five with the Browns and one with the Panthers. During those games he completed a total of 2 of 6 passes for 40 yards (57.6 passer rating).
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