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He opened training camp as the third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore

Dec
16

Unlike Winston, Prescott, as a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, did not enter the NFL with high expectations. He opened training camp as the third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore. But with his fast start — he has thrown for 3,139 yards and 20 touchdowns against only four interceptions — Prescott put himself in the MVP and Rookie of the Year discussions.

Over the past two games, Prescott has experienced some of the same bumps Winston experienced as a rookie. Prescott had his first multiple-interception game of his career last week in a loss to the New York Giants. The Cowboys have scored just 24 points in the past two games combined after scoring at least 24 in 10 straight.

The 22-year-old had five tackles in the game’s first 58 minutes, but his attempts to get to Blake Bortles had been thwarted by some of the tendencies that led him to fall to the third round of the 2015 draft. Hunter had spun his wheels trying to make too many moves on Jacksonville Jaguars right tackle Jeremy Parnell, so before the Vikings took the field for their final defensive series, defensive line coach Andre Patterson had a quick talk with Hunter.
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“I told him, ‘Hey — stop messing around. Come off the ball, use your speed, put your long arm on him and go. It’s over,'” Patterson said. “He goes, ‘Yes sir.’ And he went out there and did it and he got a sack.”
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The 56-year-old Patterson first worked for Zimmer in 1988 at Weber State, where the coach was in his final year there before becoming Washington State’s defensive coordinator. Zimmer was a firebrand even back then, Patterson said, and the two found a common approach in their voracious appetite for knowledge. Patterson would join Zimmer at Washington State in 1992, and then again with the Cowboys in 2000 (after two years working for the Vikings).

When the two weren’t working together, Zimmer would call Patterson for insight on his defensive line drills and teaching techniques. And when Zimmer became the Vikings’ head coach in 2014, he hired Patterson to change the philosophy of a defensive line that had long been taught to rush past blockers, often creating quick pressure on the quarterback but leaving escape hatches open while occasionally shirking responsibilities against the run.

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