FRISCO, Texas — During the portion of Wednesday’s practice that was open to the media, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott showed no ill effects from a right calf strain suffered Oct. 17 that has put his availability for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings in some question.
Prescott went through an extended warm-up prior to practice and did not take part in the individual footwork drills with the rest of the quarterbacks, but he went through simulated drops off to the side while coach Mike McCarthy watched. Later, he threw passes to his running backs, receivers and tight ends without any issues.
Prescott was officially listed as limited during Wednesday’s practice but CeeDee Lamb said Prescott looked, “regular. Same Dak. He looks great in and out of his drops. I don’t know the restrictions on him or what’s going on, but, to me, he looks perfectly fine.”
Prescott suffered the injury on the winning touchdown pass to Lamb in overtime against the New England Patriots, and the Cowboys benefitted from having their bye, with executive vice president Stephen Jones saying “it would’ve been a tough one” for Prescott to have played last week.
Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he was more optimistic about Prescott’s chances of playing against the Vikings, but with the practice week starting Wednesday, the Cowboys will take a conservative approach before making their final decision.
“He’s going to practice and he’s going to go through the individual part of it and he’s in the game plans. He’s preparing to play,” McCarthy said. “He’s got to cross the threshold to make sure he’s full-go.”
McCarthy did not define the threshold, but said part of the determination will be made by Prescott and associate athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation Britt Brown, who oversaw the quarterback’s recovery from his ankle and shoulder injuries in the last year.
“Britt and Dak have a tremendous history and relationship so I feel like we’ll be on the same page with how he progresses through this,” McCarthy said. “He’s going to do everything he can to play on Sunday. That’s a given.”
McCarthy acknowledged quarterbacks can “probably play with a calf strain earlier in the rehab process than the other positions.” As head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2014, McCarthy saw Aaron Rodgers deal with a calf injury late in the regular season and into the playoffs, all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
“It was difficult. The weather was different, two outdoor games then played up in Seattle there in the NFC Championship Game, so yeah, that was a challenge,” McCarthy said. “But it was January. It was a different time of year and had some different circumstances.”
Considering the Cowboys are playing their seventh game of the year Sunday and have a 3.5-game lead in the NFC East, does that impact the club’s decision with Prescott?
“I think it’s a clear decision, we don’t want this to be a week-to-week situation, so until he clears that threshold to try to minimize the risk is really what the decision will come down to,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Cooper Rush will get work with the No. 1 offense, regardless of Prescott’s health. Rush has not played in a game since 2019 and has not thrown a pass since 2017, completing 1 of 2 throws in mop-up duty for Prescott.
“It’s a matter of trying to make sure Cooper is ready and to make sure Dak is getting what he needs,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re getting Cooper ready too.”
Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t sure Prescott would play Sunday, but added, “From what we are hearing it sounds like he will be available. But, not saying I am not worried about it because obviously we want to have Dak out there, but I have a lot of confidence in [Rush]. He had a great day today.”
Lamb said the Cowboys are planning as if Prescott will play.
“Even if he’s not, we’re prepared for whoever is up next,” Lamb said. “But I’m just about 90 percent sure he’s going to be out there.”