Bronco Beat

Boise State in the NFC East: Is Kellen Moore’s spot in jeopardy?

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore evades the grasp of Los Angeles Rams defensive end Matt Longacre as he attempts a pass Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore evades the grasp of Los Angeles Rams defensive end Matt Longacre as he attempts a pass Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

It was not exactly an awe-inspiring performance Saturday, and Kellen Moore’s subpar game for the Dallas Cowboys caused the couch coaches to come out in bunches.

But the Cowboys aren’t listening, despite the sixth-year quarterback’s 8-of-17 showing against the Rams.

“We weren’t efficient enough, but we did manage to do some good things,” Moore said. “We still have a lot to work on.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that “Moore is still the odds-on favorite to win the backup job as coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan like his knowledge of the offense.”

▪  Still, there were the likes of Rotoworld’s Evan Silva, who tweeted to his 132,000 followers: “There are a lot of really bad backups but Kellen Moore takes cake as the stone-worst least talented. Doesn’t belong out there.”

▪  Or Bleacher Report’s Ian Kenyon, who tweeted to 13,000 followers: “I’m not usually one to play the ‘___ has a job but (Colin Kaepernick) doesn’t’ card. But it’s unbelievable that Kellen Moore has a job but Kap does not.”

▪  The Cowboys’ USA Today site wrote of undrafted rookie Cooper Rush, who came in after Moore and completed his first eight passes, “Could he force the Cowboys to keep three QBs on the roster? Or better yet, could he force the coaches hand and become QB2 behind Dak Prescott?”

▪  In a Q&A on the team’s website, reporters Bryan Broaddus and David Helman took a question where a fan said, among other things, he’d rather have Johnny Manziel, and that Moore “has looked terrible.” Broaddus noted no one asked it after Aug. 3’s preseason win over the Cardinals (Moore was 12-of-17 for 182 yards), and Helman said “I don’t think one game is going to change their minds.”

But thus far, the Cowboys’ brass has held steady that they expect Moore, who missed last season with a broken ankle, to be the backup to Prescott, last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Moore signed a one-year, $775,000 deal in the offseason to remain in Dallas.

“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.

Next preseason game: vs. Colts, 5 p.m. Saturday (NFL Network)

TYRONE CRAWFORD, DE, COWBOYS

The sixth-year defensive end had 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last season. He is currently listed atop the team’s depth chart at one defensive end spot, with another former Boise State standout in Lawrence at the other. On Tuesday, Crawford went down with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury and was carted off. However, there was no structural damage, and the lateral sprain may be healed in time for the start of the regular season.

Three Dallas defensive linemen are expected to miss time during the season because of off-field issues, so the positive news on Crawford was a relief.

“He’s one of the leaders on this team, leader of the defensive line group,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Certainly a huge part of this team.”

DEMARCUS LAWRENCE, DE, COWBOYS

After being suspended the first four games of last season, Lawrence returned and was relatively uneffective. He had 11 tackles and one sack in nine games. But that didn’t stop him from projecting a career season in this, his fourth with the Cowboys.

“I feel like I can be a Pro Bowl player,” he said. “I just haven’t lived up to those expectations, dealing with the injuries and my personal issues or whatever. My goal is 10-plus (sacks).”

He is cited as being one of the biggest X-factors on the defense, especially with the suspensions of Randy Gregory, Damontre Moore and David Irving.

“Lawrence clearly is the brightest of the bunch. This defense may go as he goes, and this season may go as the defense goes,” CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora wrote Friday.

ORLANDO SCANDRICK, CB, COWBOYS

Only tight end Jason Witten and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur have been with the Cowboys longer than Scandrick, going into his 10th season after being taken in the fifth round in 2008. He was solid last season with an interception and three forced fumbles in 10 starts, but dealt with a smattering of leg injuries.

It was reported during the draft in late April that the Cowboys were actively trying to trade the veteran, but it did not happen. Owner Jerry Jones denied it, and though Scandrick initially was “miffed,” he spoke soon after saying it was behind him.

“It’s the only place I know. I’ve never been in another (NFL) locker room,” Scandrick said. “I don’t want to go in another locker room. I want to finish this thing out here and win a championship.”

Scandrick is engaged to reality star Draya Michele, which has earned him his own TMZ page. Another veteran teammate feels year No. 10 might be among the best for No. 32.

DONTE DEAYON, CB, GIANTS

Undrafted last year, Deayon might be one of the smallest guys in the NFL at 5-foot-9 and 158 pounds, but it surprised few in Boise that he impressed in training camp. Deayon spent 2016 on the practice squad, but an injury shelved him in October.

Deayon had two tackles and a quarterback hit in the Giants’ preseason opener, getting the start at slot corner, but fumbled a punt return. He bounced back with a strong practice Sunday, according to the team’s website.

“The thing why he’s so valuable, man, is you need a guy that everybody knows is undersized, is small, but the heart and intensity that he brings to this team, can’t nobody match it,” veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie told The New York Daily News. “Pound for pound he’s the toughest guy on our team. I tell him that.”

Next preseason game: at Browns, 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 (ESPN)

DARIAN THOMPSON, S, GIANTS

Though he played just two games last season as a rookie because of a foot injury, Thompson is listed as the Giants’ starter at free safety. Coach Ben McAdoo said Thompson was “a little rusty” in the preseason loss to the Steelers, but that he improved as he saw more time.

Returning to the field will be a boost to a Giants defense that was already a pleasant surprise, allowing 17.8 points per game in 2016, second-lowest in the NFL. McAdoo said “the lights were not too big for him” as a rookie, and his ball-hawking abilities are enticing for a defense that picked off 17 passes last year.

“Everybody looks at me like I’m that guy, but he’s my right-hand man,” starting strong safety Landon Collins told The New York Post. “If I mess up, he got me. If he messes up, I got him. The only time we mess up is if we both mess up.”

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