NFL Nation: Nick Stephens

Cowboys look to add a quarterback

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
7:21
PM ET

IRVING, Texas -- Without Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys need another quarterback.

While the Cowboys are not ready to rule Romo out for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Jason Garrett acknowledged the team has to find a third quarterback not only in case Romo is unable to play but to get through practice.

Finding one ready to play could be problematic.

“Well, you just look at who's available and you go out and sign them,” Garrett said. “It's a position that I'm sure a lot of people would like to have. You can't sign people off of other team's rosters, but there are quarterbacks out there. Hopefully we can find one that can help us. I think that's one of the best things we've done as a team is we've handled injuries and we've gotten guys who can come in and play at a moment's notice.”

David Carr and John Skelton are scheduled to visit with the Cowboys on Tuesday. Carr was cut by the New York Giants on Aug. 31 and has thrown three passes since 2010. Skelton went 8-9 with the Arizona Cardinals from 2010-12. He was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in training camp and spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans. He was released by the Titans on Dec. 17.

Finding a quarterback is different than finding a defensive lineman. The Cowboys have dressed 19 different defensive linemen this season. They have had only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster all season and lost Alex Tanney off the practice squad to the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 26.
Preferably the Cowboys would like a quarterback either familiar with Garrett's offense or one who has run a variation of it elsewhere.

In 2010 the Cowboys signed Chris Greisen the final week of the season when Jon Kitna suffered an oblique strain. Unable to start, Kitna served as the backup to Stephen McGee in the 14-13 win against the Eagles and Greisen was inactive.

The Cowboys could sign a player from another team's practice squad. Nick Stephens went to training camp with the Cowboys and was cut on Aug. 27. He has been on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Stephens completed 11 of 19 passes for 102 yards and an interception in the preseason before he was cut.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dreadful. Just dreadful. The Dallas Cowboys (1-2) completed the West Coast portion of training camp with a 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) on Saturday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Cowboys' first-team offense was able to move the ball but failed to score, in large part because of turnovers that gave the Cardinals prime field position.

Here are some thoughts on the Cowboys' loss:

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The Cowboys committed six turnovers against Arizona. Kyle Orton threw two interceptions, both on bad throws. Lance Dunbar and Dez Bryant fumbled after long receptions, and for the second consecutive week, the Cowboys' special-teams unit muffed a punt. This time, it was Dwayne Harris losing a fumble. Alex Tanney also threw a late pick. But Arizona managed only 12 points (four field goals on five tries).

First-team offense shut out: Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions during three drives. Romo looked in tune once again with Bryant, who caught four passes for 74 yards. But the Cowboys' two best plays led to turnovers. Romo connected with Dunbar on a catch-and-run, but the running back fumbled while being tackled after a 43-yard gain. The play would have given the Cowboys the ball at the Arizona 7. Bryant fumbled on the next possession after making a catch in the middle of the field. He was stripped by cornerback Jerraud Powers while being pulled down, giving the Cardinals the ball at their own 24.

Arkin starts at left guard: With Ronald Leary out while recovering from right knee surgery, David Arkin got the start and played a little more than three quarters. Arkin did a nice job as a run- and pass-blocker. There did, however, seem to be confusion on a pass play when Arizona's defensive linemen used a stunt against Arkin that resulted in a sack.

Tanney leads scoring drive: After not scoring for three quarters, Tanney connected with Gavin Escobar on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 10:55 to play in the fourth quarter to bring the Cowboys to within 9-7. The score ended a 16-play, 89-yard drive that lasted just under 10 minutes. Tanney had two chances to give his team the lead in the final five minutes, but one drive ended with a punt and the other on an interception. Tanney finished 14-of-19 for 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Surprise decisions: Jermey Parnell, who returned to practice late last week from a strained hamstring, was a healthy scratch. Demetress Bell was the right tackle with the second team in the second half. Darrion Weems was the left tackle. The Cowboys might have played Bell just to get a good look at him against another opponent. He was signed after camp started but failed the conditioning test. Coach Jason Garrett said Bell needed to get in shape. Phillip Tanner, who was getting snaps behind starter DeMarco Murray and Dunbar at running back, didn't get any snaps Saturday. Instead, rookie Joseph Randle was the running back with the third team. Tanney took all the snaps after Romo and Orton were done for the day. The Cowboys didn't give Nick Stephens any snaps in the second half. It's doubtful if the Cowboys go with three quarterbacks, but Tanney played better than Orton.

What's next? The Cowboys finally come home after a month on the West Coast. They will be off Sunday and resume practices at 8 a.m. Monday in Irving.
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has promised/threatened to leave his starters on the field til they get things right in the team's exhibition game Friday night.

His top two quarterbacks, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, could use any extra work that comes their way.

E.J. from Redondo Beach, Calif., hit the NFC West mailbag with a request: "Whiz keeps talking about Kolb and Skelton needing to play better (staying in the pocket/finding the open man), but Kolb and Skelton only average about 5-6 attempts per game. How do their snaps/attempts compare around the NFL?"

The Cardinals have played two exhibition games. Most teams have played only one. An injury shortened Kolb's first start. Those and other factors complicate stat comparisons.

Instead, I've put together a chart showing percentages of team attempts for quarterbacks from the four teams with competitions at the position.

Kolb has indeed accounted for the smallest percentage of attempts (13.6) among quarterbacks competing for starting jobs. Tennessee's Nick Stephens has a lower percentage, but he's not a candidate to start. We should expect Kolb to play extensively against Oakland at University of Phoenix Stadium on Friday night, health permitting.

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