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5/24/2007

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Solidifying a Backup QB

It was no surprise when the Cowboys released Drew Bledsoe, but during free agency the question remained as to who was going to backup starter Tony Romo. The Cowboys opted to sign a seasoned veteran in Brad Johnson. Seems like a logical fit.

Move forward to mini camp and there are reports that Johnson looked average at best and lacked zip on his passes. Nothing to be too concerned about I guess, but what if Johnson looks bad in camp and in preseason? For now, let's just hope this won't be an issue once the pads come on.

So you figure Johnson is here for a year, maybe 2 at the very most. The QB to watch is Matt Baker. Baker went undrafted last year, and ultimately out played Drew Henson who was released early. Baker was liked by Coach Parcells, but Parcells opted to just keep two active QBs last year; however, it looks like he could have a place on this team now and the future.

Baker has been working diligently mentally and physically, and appears to be the guy to beat for the #3 QB spot this year, and probably for #2 next year.

Baker remembers how it felt last year, being the odd man out from the active roster:
"It was tough being out there (last year) as the third guy," Baker said. "I prepared every week like I had to be ready to play. That's the way you had to look at it and learn. You go through everything with the team and then not being there in gameday and not exposed to all of that was hard."(DMN)
Physically, Baker spent time working hard under the watchful eye of conditioning guru Joe Jurasek. Baker's arm is stronger and he's exhibited in during this recent mini camp and practices:
"I can make the same throws as last year as I can this year, but it's just being comfortable in taking risks and knowing when to take risks," Baker said. "I have a better feel for the speed of the game."(DMN)
Its early, but as of right now, Baker is making the right decisions on the field and is making his mark at the backup position. Whether or not the Cowboys carry three QBs is too hard to predict right now, but I would say Baker is the guy to beat. Undrafted QBs Matt Moore and Richard Bartel are very raw and green and are probably looking for a practice squad position at best. Baker doesn't mind the competition:
"You've got to compete with anyone, but I was hoping they wouldn't draft one early because in my position it's not too often you let an undrafted guy from the year before compete with a top draft pick,"(DMN)

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