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Sunday, September 1, 2013
Cowboys back in developing a QB stage

By Calvin Watkins

One of the positives regarding the Cowboys roster moves of the past 24 hours regards quarterback Alex Tanney.

The Cowboys signed Tanney to the practice squad on Sunday afternoon after he cleared waivers. Tanney completed 40 of 73 passes for 423 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

After the Cowboys released Stephen McGee in 2011, finding a young quarterback to groom for the future didn't appear to be a concern. This summer, Nick Stephens and Tanney were the Nos. 3 and 4 quarterbacks in camp and eventually Tanney moved past Stephens because of his strong arm and his ability to finally command the offense after missing the offseason program. It seems as if Tanney's skill set gives the Cowboys confidence they want to develop him.

One of Tanney's best attributes is his arm strength in terms of throwing deep passes. Several times in the preseason, Tanney wasn't afraid to let it fly with pressure in his face. Coach Jason Garrett said he was pleased with Tanney's progress over the summer.

Will Tanney become a starting quarterback? Who knows? But the Cowboys' current starter is an undrafted player from Eastern Illinois in Tony Romo.

Tanney was beaten up pretty good in his last series of the preseason on Thursday night against the Houston Texans. He was sacked three times -- four times, really, but a penalty negated the play -- and still he got the Cowboys within field goal range.

"It looked like he kept his composure, moved around, kept his eyes up the field," Garrett said of Tanney's efforts. "But just didn't get into much of a rhythm throughout the football game."

Tanney's progress is tied to Kyle Orton, the No. 2 quarterback. Orton is signed through 2014 and he's scheduled to make $3.2 million in base salary next season. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys let Orton and Tanney battle for the No. 2 job next year.

Orton played pretty well during the preseason and while fans were upset at his two-interception performance at Arizona, he did make a nice touchdown pass the previous week at Oakland and looked good in the Hall of Fame game.

Tanney will be the scout-team quarterback for this team in 2013 and if he continues to progress he could challenge Orton in 2014.