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Cooper Rush will start final preseason game for Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott appears to be in the "best shape of his life" but Chris Simms and Ahmed Fareed are pumping the breaks on how exactly it will impact his on-field production this season in the backfield for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys expect Dak Prescott to start the season opener, and they hope he will play every game this season. The star quarterback had never missed a start until dislocating and fracturing his right ankle against the Giants on Oct. 11.

The Cowboys had veteran quarterback Andy Dalton behind Prescott last season and still went 6-10, going 4-5 with Dalton as the starter.

The Cowboys worked out some veteran quarterbacks this offseason but so far have elected to throw Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci into a competition for the backup job. The three have a combined 15 game appearances, two starts, 90 attempts and 504 yards in their careers.

Rush has performed best in the preseason and will get the chance to win the job this week.

Mike McCarthy announced Monday that Rush will take the first-team snaps in practice this week and start the final preseason game Sunday against the Jaguars.

“He’s earned this opportunity,” McCarthy said.

Rush went 10-of-12 for 97 yards with two touchdowns and a 139.9 passer rating against the Texans on Saturday, while Gilbert was 3-of-5 for 30 yards and a 77.1 rating. DiNucci, a seventh-round choice in 2020, threw three interceptions against Houston in his ongoing struggles to grasp the position.

McCarthy called Rush “very steady, very consistent.”

“Cooper lives here year round,” McCarthy said, via Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press. “He has been here every day throughout the offseason. He is super intelligent. He has a great understanding. He knows the ropes around here. He has a history in the offense. That is the point I am making. And he was always prepared for his opportunity. He fought through two injuries -- both the shoulder and the back. I thought he played well against Houston.”