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It's official: Rookie QB Ben DiNucci will start for Cowboys

The Cowboys announced on Saturday before their trip to Philadelphia that quarterback Andy Dalton has been downgraded from doubtful to out due to a concussion suffered last week against Washington.

Rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci out of James Madison will make his first career start on Sunday night against the Eagles.

"We definitely took a lot at some of those things (college tape) to see what we're gonna get," said linebacker T.J. Edwards, who was activated from Injured Reserve on Saturday. "He's a guy really comfortable in a zone read and things like that. He did that in college. I think we're really kind of expecting the full arsenal in this game, so we really have to be on our reads and on our cues at all times just because they're in the same boat as us – nothing to lose and we both want to win this game, so we're expecting just about everything from him."

DiNucci entered last Sunday's game against Washington in the second half and completed 2 of his 3 passes for 39 yards. Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz noted that in a typical year there would be preseason tape to evaluate, but instead studied what DiNucci did in college.

"We were on that tape (Monday) watching some of his college film, just getting a feel for him more as an athlete and some of the throws that he made and things like that," Schwartz said.

"Anybody that makes an NFL team is good enough to play, so I think you start there. That's going to get your respect right away. You're good enough to make a 53-man roster, that deserves our respect. Just watching him run some zone read stuff when he was at JMU. Our scouting staff has really helped us that way. Our scout, (Midwest area scout) Jim Ward, has watched him since he was at Pitt. Actually, saw him when he was a high school player. Just those kinds of inputs and that kind of perspective helps us."

The Western Pennsylvania native was the first high school quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a single year in the state's history. He originally committed to Penn, but eventually enrolled at Pitt where he spent three seasons before transferring to James Madison. In his second year with the Dukes, DiNucci led James Madison to the FCS National Championship, where they lost to Carson Wentz's alma mater, North Dakota State. He completed just shy of 71 percent of his pass attempts in 2019 for 3,441 yards and 29 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He also rushed for 569 yards and seven touchdowns.

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