Jameill Showers' competition with Dak Prescott has changed angles

Jameill Showers (7) has gone from competing with Dak Prescott (4) for the third-string QB job on the Cowboys to playing safety. AP Photo/Ryan Kang

FRISCO, Texas -- A year ago, Jameill Showers was splitting snaps running the third-team offense with Dak Prescott during the Dallas Cowboys' organized team activities.

Sometimes, Showers would get the first two snaps. Other times Prescott, their fourth-round pick, would. And you didn't have to look too far to find folks inside the organization who were fans of Showers' ability as a quarterback.

Now, Showers is a safety, trying to impress the coaches enough defensively and on special teams, and Prescott is the unquestioned Cowboys quarterback with a Pro Bowl and Offensive Rookie of the Year Award to his credit.

Football can be a funny game.

But Showers, who lost a quarterback competition to Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, has no regrets about the position switch.

The Cowboys never asked Showers to return to quarterback earlier this offseason even after they did not sign a veteran in free agency or select one in the draft. An argument could have been made that he was the third best quarterback on the roster behind Prescott and Kellen Moore with what undrafted rookies Cooper Rush and Austin Appleby had shown since the rookie minicamp.

Appleby was waived Monday with the Cowboys claiming Zac Dysert off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals, but moving Showers was never an option.

"I think for both sides, we felt I had a pretty good opportunity to play quarterback and then they told me to concentrate on safety and that's what I did over the offseason," Showers said.

Showers spent 2015 on the Cowboys' practice squad. He played some quarterback but worked at multiple spots in practice, including receiver and defensive back. During the preseason that year, he played on special teams in an attempt to earn a roster spot.

"For a guy to be able to compete to be a quarterback in the National Football League, be able to play on special teams and then transition to safety, it really says a lot about him athletically. But equally I think it says a lot about him as a person," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He's embraced every opportunity we've given him. He's really helped our team the last couple of years. He's embracing this opportunity. He's changed his body a little bit. And I think you've seen him get better and better right before your eyes. He's a really smart guy, he's got good awareness. I think that can help him on the defensive side of the ball."

Showers' adjustment to safety is ongoing. He has re-worked his body over the last six months. As a quarterback, he weighed 230 pounds. Last week he checked in at 222 pounds and hopes to drop a few more before training camp.

"My body fat is down and my lean mass is up," Showers said. "I'd like to get to 215. That will help me with conditioning and things like that, but that's a long process as far as changing your body from the way it's been for the last six or seven years. Honestly, that might be the hardest part being a safety, eating right."

Showers is starting to feel like a safety but is still learning the intricacies of the position. Having spent most of his football life staring at safeties to determine coverages as a quarterback, the perspective of staring at a quarterback to determine where the ball is going is different.

"As far as me being in this offense and helping me with practice, I'm pretty familiar with what they might run in certain situations," Showers said. "You never really know but you can have a pretty good guess."

If changing his body is a tough task, filling the run holes might be harder. He won't know for sure what it is like until training camp begins and the pads come on.

"As a quarterback you know where guys' landmarks are in coverage, but coming up and filling the gaps and knowing when to sprint tackle and when to square up, that's going to be a challenge," Showers said. "Hopefully I'll get plenty of looks at it in training camp before we play a game."

A year ago, Showers wore No. 7. Now he wears No. 28. The number carries special meaning to him. It was his father James' number. But it also has special meaning in Cowboys history. It was the number of Ring of Honor safety Darren Woodson, the franchise's all-time leading tackler.

"I got on Twitter and everybody was like, ‘You've got some huge shoes to fill,' and I starting looking at it and I was like, ‘That's [Woodson's] number,'" Showers said. "I didn't realize whose number I had. Not at first. Well, I guess not until three hours later when I found out on social media."