IRVING, Texas -- We probably won’t see proof of Stephen McGee’s progress this season, but it’s been remarkable.
So says Jon Kitna.
“I’ll say this much about him: I’ve never seen a guy improve as much as he has from one year to the next at quarterback,” Kitna said. “Never seen that. It’s a very difficult thing to do.”
Kitna said McGee, who lives a few blocks away from Valley Ranch, “should pay rent here” because he spends so much time at the Cowboys’ practice facility.
McGee, who made sure the Cowboys wouldn’t consider cutting him by throwing for 304 yards and a touchdown in the preseason finale, feels fortunate that he’s been able to study Tony Romo and Kitna.
“It’s been a great situation for me,” McGee said. “Not only do they know the game well X’s and O’s wise, but they play the game differently but both very well. I’m just trying to be as much like them as I can. I’m like a chameleon almost, just seeing what they do and adjusting my game that way.”
Kitna credits McGee for also helping him. The veteran quarterback says he always lets McGee study photographs of plays on the sideline without any input from Kitna beforehand. He then asks McGee what he’s seeing.
A suggestion from McGee led to a change that resulted in Miles Austin’s critical catch on the game-winning drive against Redskins.
But it’ll take more than an intricate understanding of the playbook for McGee to develop into a starter-quality quarterback. He understands that, which is why he’s spent countless hours working on fundamentals such as depth of his drops and his passing mechanics.
McGee’s proving ground for now is on the practice field. He’s benefitted immensely from the opportunity to run the scout team. He’s earned praise for his performance in that role, including Jason Garrett saying he resembled a young Peyton Manning, half-joking that the question was how young.
“I just feel like there’s been a lot more rhythm and speed and confidence,” McGee said.
So much more that Kitna has been amazed.