FRISCO, Texas – Dak Prescott understands the situation: The Cowboys are locked into the No. 4 NFC playoff seed regardless of Sunday's outcome against the Giants.
But, echoing head coach Jason Garrett, the starting quarterback isn't thinking about anything else except building momentum in the regular-season finale.
"I want to play," he said after Thursday's practice. "I don't know about this 'not playing' stuff, but we've got momentum that we've got to keep going. I think Coach said it before that momentum is huge. It's a big thing in this league and that's what it's about. It's a team that gets hot. So I think it's important for a lot of us guys to get out there and play and keep it going."
The 'not playing stuff' is the annual external debate regarding playoff teams who have the option to rest players before the postseason. Garrett has reiterated for days that healthy players will play in Week 17 at New York (5-10).
Other key players such as running back Ezekiel Elliott have stated the importance of staying sharp this week. The Cowboys have won six of their last seven games and gone 6-2 since wide receiver Amari Cooper arrived in a bye-week trade.
No one wants to lose that momentum.
To a certain extent, Prescott and the Cowboys have been in this position before. In 2016, Prescott's rookie year, the team won a franchise-record tying 13 games and clinched home-field advantage by the final week.
Prescott and other starters were subbed out before the end of the regular-season finale at Philadelphia that year. After a first-round bye, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay 34-31 in a divisional-round classic after falling behind 21-3 in the first half.
"We started off slow in that playoff game, was able to bounce and get back on our feet," Prescott said. "But eventually losing, I think that's what you could turn to as a reason why we need to play and how it important it is that people keep their feet moving and stay active."
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan echoed Garrett, saying the team is approaching Sunday's game against the Giants "just like we would any game."
Two practices into the work week, Prescott pointed out that playing time in the finale isn't up to him, but he's "ready to play."
"I plan to play every snap," he said. "We'll see how it goes from there, though."