Cowboys' QB weapon doubles as 7
Stephen McGee is filling a big role against Philly -- and chances are he won't play
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have brought in a special weapon to prepare for the Michael Vick Experience, and it's not someone who will see any action Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. And at the expense of sounding presumptuous, it's fair to say that Al Michaels from NBC will reference this column at least once or twice (perhaps three) during the game.
This player has been credited with helping Sean Lee understand some of Peyton Manning's quirks. And now he's wearing Vick's No. 7 in every practice this week. This young man's name is Stephen McGee, and he's starring in the role of Vick during practices all week.
"This guy's actually pretty fast," said Hatcher of McGee, who once ran for his life at Texas A&M on a weekly basis. "He's been running around like a wild man, and he can flick his wrist and fire it in there like Vick. I watched Vick a lot when I was a teenager, and McGee's starting to remind me of him."
By the way, I'm pretty sure Hatcher was joking with that last sentence. Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett played with McGee at Texas A&M. He's one of his biggest supporters on the team, but he said his pal had at least one strike against him.
"For starters, he's white," Bennett deadpanned. "So that's really his downfall in life."
But let's quickly move away from the racial aspects of this comparison. Bennett went on to say that McGee's become faster since he entered the league. The tight end also said that McGee did an excellent impression of Manning last week in practice when he tried to duplicate some of his pre-snap gyrations.
"He even knew all that [expletive] that Peyton likes to say before every play," Bennett said. "You could tell that McGee had been doing his homework."
The Cowboys say that McGee's even learned some of Vick's moves in the open field. He broke out a little shake Wednesday that Vick used to freeze Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander a few weeks ago en route to a touchdown. A couple of players joked that McGee should be used in the Wildcat formation against the Eagles, but I don't believe that's on interim coach Jason Garrett's radar at this point in time.
With several off-the-record discussions, I was able to determine that Bradie James and Keith Brooking will take turns spying on Vick in Sunday night's game. The plan is to not ever let Vick get a head of steam. The Cowboys linebackers have been instructed to fly to the ball instead of letting Vick dictate the action.
James and Brooking, who has been playing through a lot of pain, will practice their approach against the elusive McGee in practice. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh told me Wednesday he's been focused on the double moves the Eagles receivers love to use. And Vick's been deadly on those throws when given enough time in the pocket.
Defensive backs have a tendency to take their eyes off the receiver and look back at the quarterback. If you do that too quickly against the Eagles, DeSean Jackson will put an 80-yard touchdown on you.
But if the Cowboys somehow solve the Vick riddle and win this game, look for McGee to be carried off the field Rudy style. He may be listed as the emergency quarterback, but he's actually been a valuable part of the preparation the last two weeks.
If you'd like to learn more about the life and times of Stephen McGee, please contact Mike Sherman. OK, now I have to return to my Cliff Lee Twitter vigil. An undisclosed team may have just offered him eight years.
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Matt Mosley covers the NFC East for ESPN.com and the Dallas-Fort Worth sports scene for ESPNDallas.com.