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McCarthy preparing QB DiNucci to start vs. Eagles with Dalton in concussion protocol

It's not looking like Andy Dalton will make a miraculous return this week.

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told 105.3 The Fan on Friday morning that Dalton remains in concussion protocol, and the Cowboys are preparing as if Ben DiNucci will start Sunday night against the Eagles.

The final decision on Dalton will come Saturday, but if Dalton is still this deep in protocol, the odds of him being ready for Sunday are extremely low.

Dalton suffered the concussion after taking a massive hit to the head from linebacker Jon Bostic in Sunday's loss to Washington. The QB's head rebounded off the grass, and he needed to be helped to the sideline. The brutal blow likely knocks Dalton out at least this week. How long it lingers remains to be seen.

The second QB injury in Dallas thrusts DiNucci into the spotlight.

"He's a confident young man. He has a lot of tools to work with," McCarthy said Friday morning, via Jon Machota of The Athletic.

The Cowboys selected DiNucci in the seventh round following two seasons at James Madison after beginning his college career at Pitt.

"Being a quarterback, you've got to have a little something to you," the rookie told reporters Thursday. "You have to have confidence, whether you're a veteran or a rookie."

DiNucci's last start came in the FCS Championship this past January against North Dakota State. Sunday night football against NFC East rival Philadelphia is a much different stage.

"Football is football. It's the game I've been playing since I was in seventh grade," DiNucci said.

The Cowboys hope the rookie doesn't end up looking like a seventh-grader come Sunday night.

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