EULESS – Stephen McGee would rather be practicing with helmets, coaches and video cameras. Instead, because of the NFL lockout, he and his Cowboys’ teammates are making do with workouts on their own.
“Obviously for a young guy in my position or anybody that’s new that hasn’t gotten a lot of reps, all those extra reps you get in OTAs [organized team activities], that you get in minicamp, are huge learning reps,” McGee said at the Balling with the Boys Celebrity Basketball Game on Thursday night. “But you’ve got to make the most of his situation, so I’m making the most of our throwing sessions. When we get together at player-organized activities, that is key for me. I’m going to continue to get better with the circumstances that are dealt.”
The Cowboys expressed their faith in McGee by not drafting a quarterback. With Jon Kitna turning 39 in September, Kitna is not long for the job, leaving McGee as the apparent future backup to Tony Romo.
McGee, a fourth-round pick in 2009, made his NFL debut last December. He brought the Cowboys from behind after Kitna was injured, completing 11 of 17 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. His 45-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin with 1:46 remaining put the Cowboys ahead, 26-24, before the Cardinals drove 46 yards to set up Jay Feely’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.
McGee won his first career start the next week, beating the Eagles 14-13 on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 55 seconds left. McGee completed 11 of 27 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 55 yards.
It was a good start, but McGee could have used more reps, more meetings, more film work, more instruction this off-season.
“It’s a big step back. There’s no doubt about it,” McGee said. “Obviously, you want to be out there getting better. I want to be working with the quarterbacks coach, Wade Wilson. This time last year, I feel like I made a huge gain from the year before in watching video with him, sitting down doing drills together and just working on little mechanic things.
“Yeah, this is valuable time that I’m not getting with a really good coaching staff. But like I said, you’ve got to do something with it. You’ve got to find a way to get better. So I’m going to make the most of the situation.”
McGee, 25, has spent the past three weeks learning from Romo at their player-only workouts. Players maintain that results have been as good as the turnout.
“It’s been productive for both sides, and I think the looks we’re getting [from the] defense are completely different,” McGee said. “They’re doing some really good stuff that’s challenging. It’s been good for them to go through new stuff as well as for me seeing the different looks and protections. It’s been really good. I think it’s a lot better than doing nothing.”
-- Charean Williams