ALAMEDA, Calif. — Matt McGloin’s rapid ascent from undrafted rookie to starting NFL quarterback is headed to the big stage.
McGloin will make his third career start on Thanksgiving Day for the Oakland Raiders in front of a national television audience against the Dallas Cowboys.
McGloin has had an impressive start to his NFL career despite failing to get invited to the scouting combine or get drafted when he left Penn State. He became the fourth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first start, a 28-23 win at Houston.
He then threw the go-ahead touchdown pass with 6:10 remaining last week against Tennessee before watching the defense give up the late lead in a 23-19 loss to the Titans.
Now he will try to get the Raiders (4-7) back on the winning track against a Dallas defense that has allowed the second-most yards passing in the league this season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” McGloin said. “I’m sure everybody has grown up watching that game with their families and to be a part of it is something special. We’re all looking forward to it. We’re excited about it. It’s going to be a tough atmosphere for football, but we’ll handle it.”
McGloin enters the week as the unquestioned starter for the first time. He wasn’t named the starter for his first game until the day before when Terrelle Pryor was ruled out with a knee injury. Coach Dennis Allen waited until Wednesday last week to announce McGloin as starter but did not wait at all this week.
“It feels good,” McGloin said. “You don’t have to wonder or deal with it this week. It gives you some relaxing, in terms of mental preparation, kind of just focus on Dallas now and not have to worry about who’s starting.”
For the second time in his three starts, McGloin will be opposed by another undrafted quarterback, albeit one with much more experience and pedigree.
Tony Romo came into the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of Eastern Illinois in 2003 and spent his first two seasons on the bench before replacing Drew Bledsoe as starter midway through the 2006 season.
He quickly established himself as one of the league’s top quarterbacks and parlayed that success into a $108 million contract extension last offseason and he takes pride in the success of other undrafted quarterbacks.
“I always root for the undrafted kid to come up and have a chance to play and then they perform pretty well,” Romo said. “I think that’s always exciting and good for the league. I wish him the best.”
After a sterling first start, McGloin was up and down last week. The positive was the late TD pass to Marcel Reece and the last six full drives leading to scores or field goal attempts.
The negative was a second-quarter interception that set up a field goal by Tennessee and big struggles on third down. After converting the first two tries of the game, the Raiders converted just one of their last eight attempts with McGloin throwing incompletions on his last seven third-down throws.
That contributed to the six field goal tries as too many drives stalled.
“We’re that close,” McGloin said. “As frustrating as it is, it’s good to see how close we are. We’re communicating with one another. That’s never been an issue. Just continue to practice that’s all we can do. But we’re right there, it’s only a matter of time before we break out and have a big game.”
NOTES: RB Darren McFadden participated in his first practice since injuring his hamstring Nov. 3 against Philadelphia and is expected to play today. Backup Rashad Jennings leads the league with 553 yards from scrimmage the past four weeks and will also get time. ... LT Jared Veldheer is on target to play for the first time since tearing his left triceps in the preseason and Khalif Barnes could move to left guard to make room. ... WR Denarius Moore (shoulder) and DE Jason Hunter (foot) were among those who did not practice. CB Mike Jenkins was limited after leaving last week’s game with a concussion.