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As "Next Man Up," Dak Prescott Looks To Keep Cowboys' Offense Moving

FRISCO, Texas – Fair to say Dak Prescott got a few more calls and texts than usual Saturday once news broke that Tony Romo had fractured a bone in his back in the Cowboys' third preseason game and would miss an undetermined period of time.

Prescott tried his best to put his phone aside, but he did exchange texts with Romo.

"He supported me, has my back. But this is still his team," the rookie quarterback said. "I'm just going to try to do my best to hold the fort down, I guess you could say – give this team a chance to succeed and win games each and every week."

For just how long remains to be seen.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reiterated Sunday that Romo is expected to return at some point this season and has not been ruled out of the Sept. 11 season opener against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.

With one preseason game left – Thursday at home against the Houston Texans – Prescott and Jameill Showers are the only healthy quarterbacks on the current roster.

Prescott said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan informed him of Romo's injury in a conversation over the weekend.

"Just that they had confidence in me; I was the next man up," he said. "Things happened a lot faster than I think we all expected it, but they have confidence and just continue being the person I am."

The opener is exactly two weeks away, and Prescott will prepare himself like he'll be leading the Cowboys' offense in Week 1.

Not that he's preparing any differently than usual. Garrett believes the fourth-round pick's approach since joining the team in May is the reason for his outstanding preseason to date: 39-of-50 for 454 yards, 5 touchdowns (and 2 more rushing) with no interceptions for a 137.8 passer rating.

"It started in the spring after the draft. He's a very prepared guy," Garrett said. "He wants to take full advantage of the opportunities that he gets on the practice field and in games. He works very hard at it. I think the players see that and he's done a good job throughout training camp, learning the offense and executing plays and done a good job in the preseason games.

"Excited to have him step into that role in Tony's absence and excited to really just focus our attention on today and try to get better today, Sunday. And that's where our focus is. That's where our attention is."

Prescott is familiar with stepping into the lineup under unfortunate circumstances. As a sophomore in high school and college, the starter in front of him got injured. At Mississippi State, he broke out as a Heisman contender and led the Bulldogs to their first-ever AP No. 1 ranking in 2014.

The Cowboys are confident Romo will return healthy at some point in 2016. Before his injury, Prescott had chances to work with the first-team offense in practice or preseason when the veteran rested.

Prescott's teammates have noticed his poise in those situations. While Romo's out, there are more to come.

"You know, he's calm. That's not normal," wide receiver Dez Bryant said. "There's guys been in this league for years that haven't established that. That's something that God has gave to him, something that he's worked on. It showed his mental toughness. It just shows the character, shows who he is. And you have to respect it."

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