Mroz the Next Bledsoe?

Dallas head coach Bill Parcells is in the enviable position of having all three quarterbacks returning from last year's roster. Veteran Drew Bledsoe returns for his 14th season as the starter, and backups Tony Romo and Drew Henson are entering their fourth and third NFL seasons, respectively. Few teams, if any, can boast that kind of experience at the position.

But Parcells decided to bring a fourth quarterback to training camp this summer, in large part to reduce the number of throws Bledsoe has to make during camp. After a strong showing at the team's April mini-camp, Yale graduate Jeff Mroz is the fourth gun in the Cowboys arsenal.

Mroz looks like a younger version of Bledsoe – tall (6-foot-5, 230), technically sound and able to make all of the throws.

"I'm a pretty conventional drop-back passer," he said, acknowledging that few Cowboys fans are likely to have spent a lot of their Saturdays watching Yale games. "I'm certainly not a Michael Vick-type quarterback. I guess you'd say I'm more like a Carson Palmer or Drew Bledsoe, in terms of my style."

His hometown of Greensburg, Penn., is Pittsburgh Steelers country, and his allegiance to the Steelers made him well aware of the abilities of Bledsoe, who he now emulates.

"I always respected his talent, because I always remember him playing against the Steelers," Mroz said. "He's one of those quarterbacks I always hated for the Steelers to play, because he's so good."

But the former nemesis to his boyhood team has taken Mroz under his wing, at least a little.

"He has to worry about what he has to do, but when I have questions, he's been great," Mroz said. "He even took me out golfing. But I try not to bombard him with questions. I'm trying to learn mostly by watching him, but when I ask, he's very helpful and encouraging. Tony Romo and Drew Henson are the same way – they've been great."

Their experience alone clearly gives Romo and Henson the inside track for the backup quarterback spots, but Mroz said he did not sign with the Cowboys just to serve as camp fodder and then quietly go home.

"They're very talented, all of them, and they have a lot of experience," Mroz said. "I know I'm the fourth guy, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I had any chance at all."

While he has the physique and the physical tools to play the game, the biggest transition from the Ivy League to the National Football League is learning the new system and the terminology that goes with it.

"I'm coming along," Mroz said when asked about the learning process. "But the thing I have to be able to do is take what I learn and apply it against defenses. I thought I was doing pretty well, but every time I think I've got something down, they throw about five new defenses at me, and out here against these veterans, they're going to try to trick you, to make it look like they're doing one thing and then actually doing another.

"So I definitely have a long way to go. With rookies, sometimes we think too much – it's a little bit of paralysis by analysis. It's going to take time. But the more practice I get, the more reps I get, the more confident I'll be."

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