Weeden Sharp In Cowboys' Preseason Loss

San Diego defeated the Cowboys 27-7 in the preseason opener in Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday as Dallas sat quarterback Tony Romo - which allowed new backup Brandon Weeden to showcase his talents.

With incumbent backup Kyle Orton refusing to take part in off-season activities, the Dallas Cowboyskicked the tires on the Browns' 22nd overall pick from 2012. Tony Romo's inability to participate in full team activities during workouts also aroused intrigue in Weeden.

"It feels good to have a clean slate and come in here and have a breath of fresh air," Weeden said in a sideline interview with Dallas Cowboys TV during Thursday's exhibition loss. ... in which Weeden was himself a pleasant presence.

The Oklahoma State product went 13/17 for 107 yards and one touchdown with a 111.6 passer rating. Only once did he post a passer rating over 100 during his 23 games in Cleveland, and that was in his second game of his career in Cincinnati in 2012.

Said Weeden: "Overall, I felt comfortable. I felt real comfortable with our drives."

The Cowboys' first drive penetrated 10 yards into San Diego territory until a myriad of penalties from illegal use of hands to offensive pass interference pushed Dallas back to their own 42-yard line. Weeden went 2/4 for 8 yards on that drive, hitting wideouts Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams for gains of six and two yards, respectively.

On Dallas' second drive, which began at their own 20 thanks to rookie corner Terrence Mitchell recovering a fumble for a touchback, Weeden displayed talent that was mildly Romo-esque. On 3rd-and-goal from the Chargers 4, Weeden rolled out to his right and waited until the last second to rifle the ball to tight end James Hanna for a touchdown in the back of the end zone. The third-year quarterback waited long enough that he took a shot from a Chargers defender shortly after releasing the pass.

"When you score a touchdown, [the hits] don't feel quite as bad," Weeden remarked.

Weeden had two more drives thereafter, going three-and-out and then getting a chance to run the two-minute drill. Out of timeouts with 1:35 left in the first half, Weeden's completions in the middle of the field gobbled up too much clock, and thus the Cowboys couldn't set up a Dan Bailey field goal. On the final play of the half, Weeden took a bad snap and made something out of nothing. Evading pressure, he held on to find wide receiver Tim Benford for a 10 yard gain.

Head coach Jason Garrett didn't play Weeden in the second half, opting to give reps to veteran Caleb Hanie and undrafted rookie Dustin Vaughan. The dropoff from Weeden to Hanie and Vaughan was apparent. The two combined for 7/18 for 97 yards and a 66.2 passer rating. The Chargers sacked Hanie twice, including a strip-sack, and got to Vaughan on a desperation fourth-and-goal from the 4 to end the game.

Behind the first-team offensive line, the second-team offensive line, and playing with backups at the skill positions, Weeden still looked well worth that inexpensive tire-kick.

With Romo's back not entirely 100 percent, some "what-ifs" perhaps still exist for Dallas in terms of the No. 1 QB. But as a backup? Weeden has now shown in Scott Linehan's offense while departee Orton simply showed himself the door.

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