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Kellen Moore back into swing of things as Cowboys' backup QB

"He sees," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of Kellen Moore (17). "He anticipates and sees guys open. He's extremely accurate." Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

FRISCO, Texas -- Kellen Moore has three options as he rolls to his left. His first is to Connor Hamlett about 10 yards down the field. His second is to Blake Jarwin, crossing a little deeper. His third is to just keep running and sliding to kill more seconds off the clock.

From behind the line of scrimmage, running the ball looks to be the safest option with all of the traffic between Moore and Jarwin.

But Moore makes the perfect throw for a first down and the offense ends the drill in victory.

"I just kind of know my progressions," Moore said. "I see him a step ahead of the linebacker. He knows where he's going. The linebacker doesn't know where he's going."

Moore doesn't yell or scream. He doesn't put his arms in the air. He simply puts his head down and goes back to the sideline, as if it were something he has done thousands of times.

"He sees," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He anticipates and sees guys open. He's extremely accurate. Lots of guys get it done different ways but guys don't last long if they can't hit a moving target on the run. That's what he does best."

Moore finds himself in the same position this year as he did a year ago during the Dallas Cowboys' minicamp, as the team's No. 2 quarterback. Last year he was Tony Romo's backup. This year it's as Dak Prescott's backup.

But if not for a fluke play in the first week of training camp last summer, the Cowboys would have turned to Moore, not Dak Prescott, when Tony Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back during a preseason game. Moore suffered the injury when guard Jared Smith was pushed back in the pocket. As Smith looked to brace himself against a bullrush, he stepped on Moore's right ankle.

Moore's season was over a week into training camp. The chance he had waited for since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012 was gone.

"At the end of the day everybody wants to play," Moore said. "When you're injured it's frustrating, but things turn out for a reason. We figured out Dak is a pretty darn good player. It's been a great situation and he's played well. And I feel comfortable that I'm ready to go again."

The Cowboys could have signed Josh McCown for considerably less than what he got from the New York Jets in early March, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones wasn't sold on spending even $2 million. Instead the Cowboys re-signed Moore to a one-year deal worth $775,000. And they haven't looked at any serious contender to push for Moore's spot.

"He's really one of those guys that can function without a lot of reps because he's a great feel player," Linehan said. "That's a key thing in this league. With backups, they get reps this time of year but it gets less and less. He works so hard mentally and he has such a good feel for the game physically that he doesn't really need to have a huge amount of reps to get comfortable playing the position or execute the plays we have in. He can visually see them."

Yet Moore's on-field experience is a total of three games in the forgettable 4-12 2015 season. He completed just 58.7 percent of his passes for 779 yards with four touchdown passes and six interceptions. But in his final start he threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions, in the season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins.

"He was doing great the first three days of camp and it was exactly what we're looking for," Linehan said. "Go back to 2015 when he played at the end and he had no background with our players. Yeah, he had some bad plays, but a lot of guys coming in in that situation might've had that. By the time he got to that last game he played in, to see him operate in our system was big."

And seeing him make a throw, like the bootleg to Jarwin, was just as big for the Cowboys and for Moore.

"The biggest thing for me is just getting people around me," Moore said. "The first couple of days, having offensive linemen kind of fall near you and do all that stuff and let it happen again and feel comfortable with that. Throwing the ball, I feel comfortable, but it's when you get people around you just because that's the way you got hurt."