FRISCO, Texas – Last Saturday, Dak Prescott took shots as the captain of the Boy Scouts.
Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys star advanced to 50 pre-kick-off written 50 pitches against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, then threw a number of votes on wide receivers during Wednesday’s practice.
So by Thursday, as the medically drained quarterback initially confronted the Cowboys’ defense in a two-minute drill during the team’s tenure, linebacker Micah Parsons wasn’t sympathetic.
Forget the thumb break that kept Prescott for five games.
Forget the swelling he needed to reduce and grip strength that took longer than he would like to recover.
Prescott won’t see any free games against the league’s eighth-best defense.
“Welcome back to the *** show,” said quarterback Parsons. “Just because you’re back, doesn’t mean that nothing will change about this ***. This is the *** we have here.”
Prescott proceeded to direct his teammates to the relegation.
On Sunday, as the Cowboys 4-2 host the Detroit Lions 1-4, we expect Prescott to be their first start since the season opener on September 11th.
“I am,” he confirmed on Thursday afternoon.
Prescott joked, “I guess, anyway,” before detailing that he won’t be wearing a brace in the competition. He may wear a medical tape that provides relief, not protection, for his thumb. But Prescott said he was not restricted or to a certain number of reps during Thursday’s training. His surgeon does not need further follow-up to examine the thumb that is still scarred. Prescott will continue to treat his thumb but play as usual.
“I’m not going to act like I didn’t have a broken bone a few weeks ago,” he said of ongoing maintenance. “But for the most part, I’m healthy, I feel comfortable, I hold the ball in my hand, my grip is great.
“Put him behind me and focus on that game plan. I’m feeling good.”
Prescott, coaches and colleagues say the key now is to reset the rhythm and timing. Prescott’s arm strength dictates a slightly faster layoff than that of reserve quarterback Cooper Rush, who led the team to the 4-1 mark in Prescott’s absence. The receptors are already starting to adapt. Prescott also returns to a team he has described as more ready to win than the unit with which he opened the season.
“Feeling comfortable and establishing an actual identity in a sense,” Prescott said.
In Prescott’s absence, the Cowboys’ annoying defense and tough ground game propelled them to their victories. Dallas singled out five of six opponents with just one touch while taking the top 24 sacks in the league.
Rush did not flip the ball in his four wins, before throwing three interceptions in Sunday’s 26-17 loss to the undefeated Eagles. The Cowboys rushed for just 71 yards in the season opener when Prescott last played; They averaged 128.4 yards on the ground behind the two-headed monster Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
The Cowboys’ offensive streak has improved dramatically since week one, with Tyler Smith settling into the starter’s first turn on the left turn. Dallas has largely reclaimed Conor McGovern in the left guard position after an ankle injury kept him out of play in two games as well, as he continues to fall short in penalty kicks and offensive pressure. Rush has been pressed four to six times in each of the past three weeks, compared to the 11 Prescott has held in 3 1/2 quarters during the opening.
Prescott also returns to new arms in receiver Michael Gallop (returning ACL) and a pair of rookie tight ends making a quick start in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot.
The Lions allow 428.6 yards for league worst and league worst 167.6 yards in defense. Their passing defense is only slightly better, ranking 26th.
The Cowboys, who trailed the Eagles 6-0 and 5-1 New York Giants in the NFC East, have a chance to cash in.
“We are coming off a loss,” Elliott said. “I think it’s strange to lose in prime time to get into the Sunday afternoon game. We still have a lot to prove. We still have to win this division.
“Right now, it’s a bit of an uphill battle, but we have to scratch and make our way out of it.”
In the meantime, Prescott has a chance to silence the chorus of skeptics that has at times escalated during his absence.
He knows he opened the season with only 48.3% of passes completed for 134 yards, no touchdowns and interceptions in the 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rush then completed 57.7% of attempts for 1,020 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in his absence, and scored 80.1 passes to 47.2 for Prescott.
Prescott, who climbed to the starting spot immediately as a freshman pick in the fourth inning in 2016, can now re-establish the talent that guided him to a 53-33 career record with 22,217 yards, 143 passing touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
He can show what receiver CeeDee Lamb said was evident in practices.
“He’s like Duck. He’s back,” Lamb said of Prescott’s speed and accuracy in team practice. Feels confident.
“He has all the energy and passion and is ready to play.”
Follow Jori Epstein of Yahoo Sports on Twitter Tweet embed
#Dak #Prescott #start #Cowboys #game #Sunday