Quarterback Kellen Moore suffered a fractured right lower leg in practice Tuesday, sending the Dallas Cowboys’ plans to develop him as a backup to Tony Romo this season into a tailspin.
Moore was injured after throwing a pass to tight end Gavin Escobar during team drills. Guard Jared Smith rolled up on Moore’s leg after being pushed back by defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye.
Moore was helped off the field by two athletic trainers and carried into a medical tent where a soft aircast was placed on the leg before he was carted off the field.
He is expected to be sidelined up to two months. The injury will likely require surgery, a source said.
A Cowboys spokesman said Moore suffered a fractured right fibula.
“Someone rolled into the back of his leg there, so we’ll take a look at that,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “We won’t really know until we look at our tape. It’s regrettable, so we’ll just basically take a look at it and address it from here.”
Jones refused to speculate how the Cowboys will approach the backup quarterback situation going forward. The personnel department met Tuesday night to discuss who might be available.
Former St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles is the top free agent on the market — the same Nick Foles that Jones dismissed as an option on the opening day of training camp because he liked what the team had in Moore.
Foles might now be back in play.
Tight end Jason Witten said he felt badly for Moore, who had a good off-season and was finally getting an opportunity to compete for role on a team.
He was on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad for three seasons before getting a chance to play with the Cowboys in 2015, with whom he played in the final three games, starting two.
Moore completed 61 of 104 passes for 779 yards with four touchdowns and had six interceptions last season. But he showed enough promise for the Cowboys to focus on him as the presumed backup this season.
“Yeah, your heart hurts for him,” Witten said. “He just works really hard. At that position, I’ve seen it with Tony for a long time as we came in, you never know when your [opportunity] is going to happen. And he’ll continue to fight, that’s what he is, that’s who he’s been his whole life, and so he’ll bounce back, I’m sure.”
Now the focus turns to rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, a former quarterback standout at Mississippi State, and second-year quarterback Jameill Showers.
Prescott said he was disappointed for Moore, but understands he will get more reps as well as increasing the pressure for him to develop faster than anticipated.
Nothing changes for Prescott as far as his preparation because he was already doing everything he could to push Moore.
“It’s an opportunity for me to get more reps and take more snaps, so I’m going to make sure I’m ready,” Prescott said. “I’ve just got to come in each and every day and get better. That’s all I’m worried about. I mean, eventually I want to be the starter. That’s my mindset is to come in each and every day and get myself to the level as close as I can to Romo and learn from him. So that’s my mindset.”
Showers, who was a college quarterback at UT El Paso and Texas A&M, had a similar reaction.
“It’s all about opportunities and taking advantage of them,” Showers said. “You’re always one snap away. But I’m just praying for him. I hope it’s not that serious, but, like I said, it’s just unfortunate.”
Showers was a wild card with the Cowboys last year. He made the practice squad because of his versatility in being able to play receiver, defensive back and special teams in practice. He was moved to quarterback full time in the spring.
But there is no question he is behind Prescott in the pecking order.
The Cowboys drafted Prescott in hopes of developing him into a quarterback of the future.
The timetable has just advanced.
Prescott, who played in a zone-read scheme in college, said he is picking up the offense and adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He just needs work and more reps, something that is not lost on coach Jason Garrett, who gave him special attention after practice.
Garrett spent five to 10 minutes playing catch with Prescott before demonstrating some techniques while someone at training camp yelled, “You are our new No. 2, Dak!”
“Me and coach Garrett are always consistently talking about things I can get better at my game more, and that was something we were kind of talking about there at the end.”