FRISCO, Texas – Dak Prescott is a week from playing for the first time since the star Dallas quarterback’s horrific ankle injury almost 11 months ago, with little practice in training camp and no preseason games to help with the recovery.
No matter, he says. Bring on Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’m definitely ready,” Prescott said Friday. “I put in a lot of work to get to this point. Whether it was months ago, rehabbing the ankle, to the last few (weeks) keeping the feet working while I was letting my arm rest.”
Prescott was just starting to push his twice surgically repaired right ankle to the limits in practice when a right shoulder strain cropped up early in camp in California. He had to settle for mental reps behind the offense for a month before the training staff let him throw with full force last week.
Now the Cowboys say there are no limitations for the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year as the club gets set for the routine of game week before the Sept. 9 opener at Tampa.
“You’ve got to give him credit for the process that he worked himself through,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It isn’t like he just stood in the back and didn’t do anything while he wasn’t throwing. He’s staying on top of the footwork. His conditioning couldn’t be better.”
Prescott didn't know if throwing too much while recovering from the compound fracture and dislocation of the ankle led to the issues with the shoulder early in camp. Regardless, when he was cleared to throw that hard again, Prescott didn't worry about limiting the velocity or frequency of throws.
“I think that’s just the way I play the game,” Prescott said. “I just went out there and playing within the moment, ripping passes, not thinking about it, just making the plays I needed to make.
“Then after two days like that, realizing there wasn’t any residual effect and I wasn’t sore, I’ve been sticking to the plan and it’s all worked out. Yeah, from the shoulder to the leg to my mind, I’m ready to go.”
Days from getting to play again, Prescott didn't want to say it's been a blur over the 10-plus months since he was driven off the field on a cart, in tears, after the ankle injury. But he said time didn't stand still, either.
Prescott said the days and weeks seemed to move quickly because he kept the focus on the details of his recovery, first with the ankle, then with a more methodical approach to getting warmed up for throwing.
There was also plenty to manage away from football after Prescott signed a club-record $160 million, four-year contract in March. Already the face of the franchise with plenty of marketing opportunities before the huge payday, Prescott's presence grew that much more.
Lurking behind all that, Prescott had to get himself ready to be hit again, and throw on the run again, and decide when to take off on his own again, the latter being the type of play that led to the ankle injury.
Prescott had hoped to get used to all of those things in a preseason game. Instead, it'll be in the NFL's nationally televised opener, possibly on a hot and humid night in central Florida.
“I’ve just been out here in practice, individuals, taking every rep like it’s a game rep and taking that over to whatever rep they allow me to do out here in practice so I know I’m conditioning myself and getting myself ready for that game speed,” Prescott said.
NOTES: WR Noah Brown is the only remaining Dallas player on the COVID-19 reserve list after being added this week. G Connor Williams came off the list Friday, but was limited in practice. The others activated in time for the return from the post-training camp break were WR CeeDee Lamb, S Damontae Kazee and DT Carlos Watkins. ... RT La'el Collins is still limited in practice after a neck issue arose late in training camp.