USATSI

This Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys are set to use their fourth starting quarterback of the season. We just don’t know who it will be just yet, and coach Mike McCarthy is not saying. On Friday, McCarthy was again asked which of Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush will start the team’s Week 9 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he again declined to name a starter

Gilbert, who was signed as a free-agent in mid-October following Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury, has thrown just six NFL passes. He starred in the AAF last year, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,152 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just two interceptions, winning the league’s MVP award. 

Rush, who served as the backup to Prescott for from 2017 through 2019, has thrown three NFL passes. He was replaced this offseason by Andy Dalton, then signed with the New York Giants’ practice squad, reuniting him with former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. He was removed from New York’s practice squad in late September and re-signed with Dallas last week. 

Gilbert and Rush are in the mix to start after rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci struggled badly both in relief of Dalton against Washington (after Dalton was knocked out of the game by a dirty hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic) and then as the starter in last week’s loss to the Eagles. DiNucci went just 23 of 43 for 219 yards while taking seven sacks and fumbling four times during those two appearances. 

Whichever player starts for Dallas against the Steelers will face one of the toughest matchups of the season and is likely to be relentlessly pressured by Pittsburgh’s blitz-happy defense. The Cowboys’ offensive line has deteriorated throughout the year due to various injuries and has been unable to protect any of the previous three signal-callers who have seen playing time. Potentially making matters even worse is the hamstring injury to Ezekiel Elliott, which has limited him in practice throughout the week and may keep him out on Sunday. The Cowboys are simply in a bad place right now, and it seems unlikely they’ll be pulling out of it anytime soon.

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