Cowboys OK taking risk with Kellen Moore as backup QB

With the Dallas Cowboys set to open training-camp practices Saturday, here is the first of a position-by-position look at their roster:


Returning players: Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Jameill Showers

Gone from last season: Matt Cassel

New this season: Dak Prescott (fourth-round draft pick)

Position coach: Wade Wilson (10th season as Cowboys quarterbacks coach)

Biggest issue: Kellen Moore has played in three games and started two in his career, and all of them came last season. He had four touchdown passes and six interceptions. After the Cowboys went 1-11 with backups Brandon Weeden, Cassel and Moore as their starters in Romo’s absence, it was surprising they did not make more of an attempt to add a veteran of substance in free agency. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has been a long backer of Moore’s, considering their time together in Detroit. Moore is not the biggest (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) and does not possess a big arm, but his smarts and savvy have allowed him to stick around. This will be the first time he enters a training camp with the No. 2 job his to lose.

Player to watch: Since all eyes will be on Romo and his comeback from two broken collarbones, let’s go with Prescott here. The Cowboys flirted with the possibility of trading back into the first round for Paxton Lynch. They considered moving up to take Connor Cook in the fourth round, but settled on Prescott. They like his makeup and athletic ability. The coaches lauded his work in the offseason even with limited work during the organized team activities and minicamp. He needs to work on his accuracy. Too many of his passes were off target in the spring. There is a lot to like about Prescott, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done, too.

Medical report: Romo had surgery on his collarbone in March, but he was able to take every meaningful snap in the spring without any worry. He said his twice surgically-repaired back is stronger than it had been over the past few years, which had him moving much better. Over the past two years Romo has taken days off in camp to alleviate some stress on his back, but he might not need as many this summer.

Play it out: With the addition of Prescott, the Cowboys almost assuredly will keep three quarterbacks coming out of training camp for the first time since 2011. Given Moore’s relative inexperience it is possible the Cowboys will keep an eye on veterans that could become available later in the summer. Showers has some ability, but will be fighting an uphill battle because of Prescott’s pedigree as a draft pick.

Notable number: minus 39.4. In 2014, the Cowboys led the NFL in Total QBR (79.2), but had the second-lowest QBR last season (39.8). The drop was the largest decrease in Total QBR in the NFL last season at minus-39.4. The Denver Broncos saw their Total QBR drop 27.9 points, and the Baltimore Ravens saw theirs drop 23.9 points.

Quote board: "I'm not in my mid-20s anymore, but I do think based on what my situation has been like the last three or four years, I do think this [offseason] is drastically different. It takes me back five years ago when I was able to do things the way [I had]. I'm not there yet. I still got these months to just get after it, but it's exciting to actually be able to get after it a little bit. But if everything keeps going the way it's going, I think it's going to be exciting going into camp." -- Romo during OTAs.