The main objective of the Dallas Cowboys in Thursday’s 28-17 preseason loss to the Houston Texans was to stay healthy.
With the Sept. 11 season opener against the New York Giants a little more than a week away and starting quarterback Tony Romo already sidelined for eight to 10 weeks with a fractured back, the Cowboys refused to chance any more injuries.
So all the starters, including rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who is taking over for the injured Romo, were kept off the field at At&T Stadium, along with many key backups.
The big question was could quarterback Jameill Showers show enough in a full game against the Texans to make a case for the backup quarterback job behind Prescott while Romo was out.
The Cowboys signed Jerrod Johnson to serve as the third quarterback Thursday, but planned to scan the waiver wire for a veteran following final cuts on Saturday.
Showers left a lot to be desired in what was the longest outing of his two-year career. He spent much of last season on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
His inexperience was the main reason the Cowboys were going to be looking outside help quarterback for a veteran presence behind Prescott.
And while the Cowboys liked some of the things Showers did Thursday, completing 10 of 25 passes for 91 yards, his lack of nuance was evident.
He did throw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Darius Jackson on a screen pass to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.
His two biggest miscues were a fumble while trying to scramble for a first down, setting up a Texans touchdown and an interception returned 9 yards for a touchdown by safety Antonio Allen to seal the Texans’ victory.
“We play to win games and we didn’t,” Showers said. “That’s on my shoulders.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Showers was affected by the players around him, namely a lot of backups and guys who won’t be on the final roster. He said the offense simply wasn’t good enough.
“Obviously, we want to move the ball more effectively,” Garrett said. “Third downs weren’t very good. We weren’t able to consistently sustain drives. It seems like he was moving aorund a little bit. Maybe he had some pressure that he had to deal with. We will go back and evaluate it play by play. He’s done a nice job up to this point.”
If the Cowboys don’t put Romo on the injured reserved/designated for return and add a veteran quarterback behind Prescott, the team will be hard-pressed to keep four quarterbacks on the active roster.
That would make Showers the odd man out. He could be signed back to the practice squad, however.
“I think he had some good moments and then moments where obviously he’s going to have some learning experiences,” vice president Stephen Jones said. “But you learn from being out there and it’s good for him to get to play a full game, see what he can do and get him going again. As I’ve said last year he never really sat in quarterback meetings so this is his first full year to do it, and I think as I said he did some good things and then I think he’s obviously got some things to improve upon.”
The Texans led 14-10 at halftime and made it 21-10 early in the third quarter, seemingly on the verge of a blowout.
Former Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden tossed a 64-yard touchdown pass to Keith Mumphery in second quarter and quarterback Tom Savage tossed a 10-yard score to running back Akeem Hunt. Hunt also had a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
But cornerback Anthony Brown turned the tables when he stepped in front of a Weeden pass and returned it 59 yards to the end zone, making the score 21-17.
It was the second turnover of the night for the Cowboys’ defense. Defensive end David Irving knocked the ball loose from running back Kenny Hilliard in the first quarter to stop a red zone threat. Safety Jeff Heath recovered it to set up the touchdown pass from Showers to Jackson.
The Cowboys also stopped the Texans on fourth and goal from the 7 when Weeden was sacked by defensive end Mike McAdoo.
The defense had one more stop in them after a Cowboys drive inside the Houston territory halfway through the fourth quarter ended on a fourth-down sack of Showers.
The Texans were forced to punt, giving the ball back to the Cowboys at their own 5 with 2:55 left in the game.
But Showers would not be a hero on this night. A pass intended for tight end Gavin Escobar was picked off by safety Antonio Allen, who returned it 9 yards for a touchdown.
“A lot of missed opportunities on my part,” Showers said. “And then the last play was a pick six. They were playing a cover two and I was just trying to get some yards and get us out of the end zone. I might have looked a little too early. You want to take the team down and be a hero. But it didn’t work out that way.”