FRISCO, Texas –Attention fantasy football managers: Dak Prescott is ready to run.
"I expect to have about 20 carries a game," he said with a smile Tuesday.
Yes, that was a joke.
But the Cowboys quarterback is indeed feeling great physically and more comfortable making plays with his feet as he gets further and further removed from his 2020 injury -- a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle -- that sidelined him the final 11 games of that season and led to several months of rehabilitation.
"I go into each offseason trying to be a better player and person than I was the year before, and at this stage, at this point, I definitely feel like I've accomplished that," he said. "I think I'm so, so much further along than I was last year at this time, just being able to get the team reps and being able to move more, take care of my whole body and just focus on everything and not just my leg. It's a huge difference."
This time last year, the Cowboys held Prescott out of any drills that featured a pass rush, a preventative measure heading into training camp. The surgically-repaired ankle did not have any setbacks during the season, though Prescott was limited by a strained right shoulder muscle during most of camp and missed one regular-season game with a strained right calf.
This year, he has enjoyed a fully healthy offseason with no practice restrictions, a key benefit for the offense as it works through some personnel changes at the receiver position (namely, a shift in roles following Amari Cooper's departure to Cleveland, plus the additions of third-round draft pick Jalen Tolbert and veteran James Washington). Prescott and Tolbert looked in sync throughout Tuesday's minicamp practice, including a touchdown throw to the rookie wideout during a scramble situation in team drills.
"The thing that jumps out to me is his movement ability in the scramble drills and scramble situations, the way he activates the scramble drills," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's got more reps at it. It's more natural to him. He looks really good.
"He's leaner, more flexible. I think the mechanics, just to be able to really get after the mechanics. There's no limits on the movement drills. The quarterback drills last year, there was a gradual phase of the different type of drills, how we did them. There was no progression to that his year. He's been a full go from Day 1."
Prescott's ability to move in and outside the pocket and make plays on designed runs has been a major asset to the offense since he entered the league in 2016. He has said that his ankle was never in the back of his mind during running situations last season. But McCarthy explained why the team did try to be smart with how often he was put in running situations.
"I think it's obvious we didn't call as many quarterback runs than probably prior," McCarthy said. "There wasn't as many in the game plan, so I think we tried to be smart when used him. I think that's only natural. I think if you look at the history of this league, when a player has a major joint injury, it usually takes him a full year. There's a first for everything that the player has to go through. That was definitely part of our thinking."
Now almost two years since the injury – 20 months, to be exact – Prescott's main focus is the offense building a rapport as training camp gets closer.
"Being able to get out there and having so many reps with these young guys," Prescott said. "Having such a young receiver corps and young team, just being able to rotate those guys with me, actually getting in there with those reps, being able to have to explain some of the things to them, but those are good quality reps for me and for some of those guys we're going to actually need in the fall."