Bronco Beat

He’s back! Cowboys’ Kellen Moore will play in first game in 19 months Thursday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore, the former Boise State great, likely will see plenty of time in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore, the former Boise State great, likely will see plenty of time in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals.

UPDATE: Moore started Thursday against the Cardinals and went 5-for-5 on his second drive, throwing a touchdown. Follow here for more.

Wednesday marked exactly one year since Kellen Moore had broken his right ankle, ending his 2016 season before it started.

On Thursday, he’s expected to see his first game action since Jan. 3, 2016 — a span of 19 months.

Moore and the Dallas Cowboys will face the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, at 6 p.m. on NBC and NFL Network. The Cardinals have said their starters won’t play; on Wednesday, it was announced Moore will start the game. And he’s ready.

“This year you appreciate it more,” Moore told The Dallas Morning News. “Last year it was kind of weird spending August on the couch watching ‘Fixer Upper’ all day.”

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told the newspaper, “I’m sure he’s pretty excited to get back out there.”

In March, Moore re-signed with Dallas on a one-year deal after spending last season on injured reserve. Soon after he was injured, starter Tony Romo also suffered a major injury, forcing Dallas to go with the rookie Prescott. All the former Mississippi State passer did was lead the Cowboys to the playoffs and earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Though many expected the Cowboys to find a backup to compete with Moore, they were happy to bring him back as Prescott’s backup.

“Kellen Moore has shown the ‘it,’ he’s got the instincts, he’s got the anticipation, he knows what’s going on, he gives me and us a great feeling about basically improving,” owner Jerry Jones said in May.

Moore, entering his sixth NFL season and third with the Cowboys, has played in three NFL games, all in the 2015 season. He was 61-of-104 passing for 779 yards, with four touchdowns and six interceptions. In a game on Jan. 2, 2016, he threw for 435 yards.

“He’s exceptional,” wide receiver Cole Beasley told The Dallas Morning News. “A lot of guys wrote him off because of his size. They tend to do that in this league. But you can’t just find a gamer that knows how to go out there and play football. ... He’s one of those guys.”

If he had stayed healthy through camp last year, Moore might have gone into the season as the starter. But he chooses to see the bright side.

“Obviously, I was disappointed. It was just kind of a fluke deal because you get stepped on all the time and just kind of a perfect storm,” Moore told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But we certainly figured out Dak is a pretty darn good quarterback in the process, so not all things are bad. Obviously, it turned out great.”

The Cowboys’ brain trust feels confident with Moore behind Prescott, and as Dallas seeks to play in its first Super Bowl in 22 years, its first action of the 2017 preseason could be with the lefty under center Thursday.

“He had a really good offseason with us and has practiced well up to this point in training camp,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He has responded really well to that situation and he’s playing very good football right now.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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