OXNARD, Calif. – Last time we heard from him, Dak Prescott insisted he had "buried" the ankle injury that cut his 2020 season so short.
Having concluded his first practice of this 2021 training camp, the Cowboys' star quarterback insisted that the injury was the furthest thing from his mind – the result of nine hard months of dedicated rehab.
"That is what allowed me to get to this point and to be out there participating and competing and not thinking about it at all," he said.
One, unpadded practice is merely a warmup, though. There are many more milestones for Prescott to cross before the topic firmly falls behind him. But it was a solid start for a guy who's had a long wait to be fully cleared for football practice.
"It was just good to get back out there, fully moving, being a full participant in everything," he said. "It's exciting just being back with the guys. It's the last thing I'm thinking about. But obviously, I'm going to see where am at as I continue to go on and make sure that I can set the right plan to take care of it."
Here are some more notes from Prescott's first media session of training camp.
- Preseason snaps will be part of Prescott's return to form, to hear it from Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys' head coach said Friday that he anticipates that Prescott will play during the preseason, though he declined to elaborate when or for how long. Asked about it, Prescott said preseason playing time would be a big step toward moving past his injury and getting ready for the regular season. "I just want to obviously get back out there and get some reps before it's real," he said. "Just to have a live defense coming at me. Hopefully not take too many licks because I have great protection, but that's part of the game, and I think it would obviously be great to get up from that, wipe it off and be just another process of burying the injury. I think it will be huge."
- HBO's "Hard Knocks" series will follow the Cowboys throughout training camp, and Prescott says their presence won't be a distraction to the team. "We had great team meetings at the beginning of this camp that I think handled it. As we said, it's going to be a fly on the wall," he said. "Things are going to be a distraction that you allow to become a distraction. I know we've got the right leaders. We've got the right personalities on this team to focus. … We're going to allow them to do their job, we're going to do our job, and hopefully it goes smooth."
- Prescott made sure his first pass of training camp walkthroughs went to tight end Blake Jarwin, who's back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 1 of the 2020 season. "Obviously I know everything he's been through, fighting his adversity, fighting his injury and getting back on that field," Prescott said. "It's special not only for me but for him and for this offense. He's somebody that we're going to count on."
- One of the big stories of the offseason was Prescott's switch from Adidas to Jordan Brand, a lucrative new deal that was announced back in June. "Just knowing what kind of athlete he was, what kind of competitor he was, what kind of winner he was," Prescott said. "And then during COVID, we all pretty much watched 'The Last Dance,' just getting another peak and another insight of who he was as a player, it just jumped out to me. It was special for me to be able to put my name with him, to be able to bring Jordan, bring the Cowboys together, I think it's special."
- Prior to his injury, Prescott struggled with ball security last season, losing three fumbles in the first five weeks of 2020. He said one of his big focuses this year will be situational awareness, as he seeks to make better decisions in protecting the ball. "Just knowing when it's important to give up on a play, throw the ball away or to slide when you're running," he said. "Just being a smarter player overall and knowing it's for the benefit of the whole team."