Dak Prescott Ready to Start Cowboys Season Opener Despite Injury, Jerry Jones Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2021

Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott gestures as he stands on the field during warmups before a preseason NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said quarterback Dak Prescott would've played Saturday night if it was a regular-season game as he continues to make progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury.

"He threw with authority and accuracy before the game," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (via Jon Machota of The Athletic). "If we were lining up against Tampa tonight, he'd be starting and we'd feel great about it."

Prescott has missed practice time and sat out all three of the Cowboys' preseason contests, including Saturday's 20-14 loss to the Houston Texans, but Jones sounds confident the franchise quarterback will be available Sept. 9 when the team faces the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to kick off the 2021 season.

Jones' comments are in line with what Prescott recently told Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, saying "there's no doubt" he'll be healthy and ready to lead the offense in Week 1.

Yet, there will be lingering concerns until the 28-year-old Mississippi State product takes the field and proves he's back to full strength. He was limited to five games last year before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, and now he's been sidelined by the shoulder.

It's one of the NFL's biggest stories because of the Cowboys' wide range of potential outcomes this season based on the quarterback's availability.

If Prescott plays all 17 games or somewhere close to that total, Dallas should feature one of the league's best offenses with running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, wide receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup and tight end Dalton Schultz.

Should injuries become a factor again, however, the Cowboys don't have a proven backup to keep the offense clicking anywhere near the same level.

Ben DiNucci, Cooper Rush and Garrett Gilbert are competing for the backup role. Rush was the most impressive against the Texans, completing 10 of his 12 throws for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but any of the three would represent a major question mark for the Dallas aerial attack.

"Well, we have one more week and we're going to need it," head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Saturday about the battle for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

The Cowboys wrap up the exhibition slate next Sunday when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars before the high-profile clash with the Bucs to kick off the regular season in 18 days.