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Cooper Rush, the 'silent killer' tasked with keeping the Cowboys afloat without Dak Prescott

Hours after taking over for the injured Dak Prescott in Week 1, one of Cooper Rush’s former college teammates texted him. Rush moved from a longtime backup to the Dallas Cowboys’ QB1 in an instant as news of the severity of Prescott’s thumb injury trickled through the Twitterverse.

But when he messaged his friend back, Rush didn’t seem too interested in it.

“Hey hey,” former Central Michigan wideout Jesse Kroll texted Rush. “I’m excited about your chance!”

“Thank you,” Rush replied emphatically. “How is your father doing?”

Rush outright dismissed asking Kroll about his two-month-old baby as arguably the biggest moment of his professional football career. The Rush is now the most popular football team in the country and the most valuable professional sports team in the world.He is the starting quarterback of the franchise. But instead of talking about it, he wanted to hear and offer advice about Kroll’s life after Rush became his father just 18 months ago.

Don’t mistake Rush’s indifference for indifference. He understands the role he’s stepped into: After a Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rush said, “I need to make things click like he’s four.” [Prescott] i was there “

But that coolness is also exactly what Kroll witnessed during his five years in the rush in Central Michigan. Kroll describes Rush as simply a “regular Midwestern dad” and “soft-speaking but with a big stick” and letting his behavior do most of the talking. Until then, he is the Cowboys’ starting quarterback.

“He’s kind of a silent killer, he doesn’t say much, but when he says something, it really gets under your skin,” Kroll said. Sometimes it doesn’t make for a great story because he’s not the kind of guy to do things or be different from game to game, but he’s very level and keeps his composure, even when he’s panicking. It calms me down.”

“He knows what he has to do”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquille Barrett, 58, at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys while throwing a pass during the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Put pressure on a certain Cooper Rush. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

No one is more panicked than the Cowboys now that they’ve lost their franchise quarterback. Prescott’s surgery has reportedly gone well, and head coach Mike McCarthy recently said: He undergoes a 7-10 day “healing process”It’s unclear exactly how long the Cowboys will be without him. Original reports speculated that his injury timetable was six to eight weeks.

Dallas has been here with Rush. Last year, when Prescott was sidelined with a calf injury, he started Week 8 during primetime Sunday night’s game against Minnesota’s Vikings. Rush put in a very solid performance. He completed 60% of his passes for 325 yards, two touchdowns and he had one interception as he won 20-16, and in the final minute he had 8 plays to his advantage. recorded a game-winning drive of 75 yards. He got a touchdown to receiver Amari Cooper.

Prior to that game, the Vikings received a quick scouting report on Rush from one of their former CMU teammates, tight end Tyler Conklin. He signed with the New York Jets in 2022 after playing his four seasons with Minnesota. Conklin makes Rush oddly enough that Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​has a quiet demeanor overall, but he can pop out when called out.

“He knows what he has to do,” Conklin said of Rush. “He can do all the throws on the field. I’m here.

“He’s a hell of a football player and he’s going to really impress people in the coming weeks.”

That said, it was just one match. The team traded Cooper away, put wideout Cedric Wilson into free agency, and released tackle Rael Collins. Right tackle Tyrone Smith is also out with a knee injury.

Rush was also unimpressive in the 16 snaps he played in Week 1 when Prescott left. He gained 64 yards on 7 of his 13 tries, and he took two sacks on two drives late in the fourth quarter in a 19–3 loss.

Still, the Cowboys’ front office, coaches and players seem to have faith in Rush. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Dallas has said it has no plans to acquire a starterweight quarterback despite having players like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the trade block. After playing for the Cowboys since 2017, Rush’s familiarity with the offense is a big part of that. Since signing as an undrafted free agent, he has been a consistent member of that quarterback room during offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s tenure. They were even teammates.

“Coop has been here for a long time,” Moore said Monday. “I think he knows himself as a player. I feel lucky.”

Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush prepares to face Tulsa during the second half of the Miami Beach Bowl NCAA college football game in Miami Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.  (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Cooper Rush signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2017 after playing for Central Michigan. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Rush’s “calm strength”

Arguably the wildest moment in Rush’s football career came in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl against Western Kentucky.

The Central Michigan team, led by Rush, was staring at a nearly insurmountable 35-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. However, Rush brought Chippewas back with five touchdown passes to cut the lead to one point in the final 15-minute frame. A failed two-point conversion ended the comeback, but Rush left the game with a then-FBS Bowl game record seven touchdown passes (now tied with Joe Burrow).

But Rush didn’t energize his teammates with passionate declarations and raucous celebrations. He just stood in the huddle, delivered the play call, broke the huddle, and went to work like any other play.

Rush happened to play a big role another Hail Mary for the second and last will be against Oklahoma State two years later. Rush picked up the pass during overtime downs and Kroll lateralized the ball to teammate Corey Willis at her 9-yard line. Willis, though controversial, he scored the winning touchdown.

“He was a fearless player,” recalls former CMU center Nick Beamish. “He always kept his composure. He was a ‘not too high, not too low’ type of player.”Even the biggest stage I saw last year [against the Vikings], I think he is still the same. It’s intensity, but mild intensity, and expects everyone around him to maintain the same mentality. “

The Cowboys will need that coolness to keep the season on track against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Detractors point to Rush’s lack of experience and athleticism, but his old college teammates believe he makes up for it with preparation and consistency.

“[The Cowboys] It’s one of the world’s leading sports organizations,” said Beamish. “It’s like, they’re not doing anything on a whim. There’s definitely a reason they’re holding him back. I think he knows what their expectations are.” And I think he’s confident he can meet them.”

These expectations, like Rush’s character, are neither unreasonably high nor low. By his own standards, they are simple and achievable.

“Just do your job,” Rush said. “Just run. It’s the same play, it’s the same others, we still have everyone else. I trust them and they trust me and they all We come together as a group, we play and we do.”