The Pittsburgh Steelers went into this week thinking they would be facing Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton on the road Sunday as he was expected to be back this week from the concussion that sidelined him in Week 8. However, the Steelers will now need to quickly shift their focus to preparing for rookie Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci as Dalton is being placed on the team’s Reserve/COVID 19 list on Tuesday.
DiNucci, a James Madison product, made his first career start this past Sunday in the Cowboys loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In that game, DiNucci completed 21 of his 40 total pass attempts for 180 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked four times in that game against the Eagles and ran five times for 22 yards.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked on Tuesday before the news about Dalton broke about which Dallas quarterback the team will prepare for this week and what his overall thoughts on DiNucci’s play on Sunday were.
“We’re preparing for Andy Dalton,” Tomlin said. “This is a guy that has experience against us, that has knowledge and understanding of us. We have experience against him, but we don’t have experience against him within the system of offense that he’s in now. So, we’re preparing for him. I’ll let Dallas do the evaluation of DiNucci’s performance. We’ve got respect for him. He’s a professional. We realize that this would be an awesome opportunity for him if he should get it being a Pittsburgh young man, and so we respect that.”
DiNucci, who attended Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, was drafted by the Cowboys thus year in the seventh-round. He finished his college career at James Madison ranked third in completions (479), fourth in passing touchdowns (45) and passing yards (5,716) and seventh in total offense (6,718).
The Cowboys are reportedly also seriously considering starting practice squad quarterback Cooper Rush against the Steelers as well.