FRISCO, Texas — When rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci joined the Dallas Cowboys for training camp in August, he figured there was no chance he'd see action with starter Dak Prescott and veteran backup Andy Dalton on the roster ahead of him.
But that was before Prescott was lost for the season with a fractured ankle and Dalton was knocked out with a head injury two weeks later.
And with Dalton still in concussion protocol and yet to participate in practice, DiNucci is preparing to start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) in a game that could put the floundering Cowboys (2-5) back in first place in the NFC East.
The unabashed native Pennsylvanian who hails from the suburbs north of Pittsburgh calls it the "opportunity of a lifetime."
"Hey, this is 2020. What else do you expect?" DiNucci said. "Here we are. Week 8 of my rookie year I've got a chance to go out there on Sunday Night Football and do what I love to do. I couldn't be happier or more excited.
"This is everyone's childhood dream, right? The chance to be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. What more could you want?"
DiNucci will have a number of family and friends who'll make the four-hour trip across the state to attend the game.
What he could really use, however, would be a healthy and experienced offensive line in front of him to protect against the Eagles' dominating and aggressive defensive front.
But he does have the support of his teammates and love from Prescott.
"Actually saw him yesterday before we were going out to practice," DiNucci said. "Kind of just walked up to him and said, 'Hey, this isn't what you said my rookie year was going to be like.' He laughed and gave me a hug and just said, 'We've talked about this. Go out there and do you. Take completions. Trust the guys around you. You'll be great. Don't overthink it. Football's football.'