On Monday, Mike McCarthy made it clear that this Saturday's game against the Houston Texans would be Dak Prescott's last chance to play in the preseason. Before Wednesday's practice in Frisco, the Cowboys' head coach claimed that his quarterback missing Saturday's game, at the moment, looks like the most probable outcome.
"There's a good chance he probably won't play [against the Texans]," McCarthy stated. "That's fair to say."
McCarthy also said Monday he wouldn't plan to play Prescott in the fourth preseason game Aug. 29 against Jacksonville, as preseason finales are typically for competing for final roster spots.
McCarthy and the organization are not worried about the long-term health of Prescott after a second MRI revealed positive news and suggested that his shoulder strain was not a significant injury. But McCarthy explained on Monday that they were determined to keep it that way by managing his throwing load while he recovers in order to avoid further injuring it. He referred to it as a "plan of caution."
Prescott will be on the field with the team for Wednesday's practice, according to McCarthy, but will not be a full participant.
"I would continue to classify him as limited," he said. "We're just going to continue the throwing regiment and build up the volume."
While the quarterback's health is expected to be a non-issue by Week 1, the implications of his limited participation in practices and zero preseason snaps is considerable. Up to this point, Prescott still has yet to compete in a full padded practice since before he injured his ankle in October of 2020. He pulled himself out of the team's first padded practice in Oxnard when he noticed the symptoms of his shoulder strain.
On Monday, McCarthy stated that, in a perfect world, Prescott would be able to play some preseason snaps as a sort of mental hurdle before debuting in a regular-season game, but he made clear they would not risk jeopardizing the recovery of his shoulder to accomplish that.
When the Cowboys kick off the NFL season with a game against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 9, Prescott will have gone 334 days since the last time he suited up and competed on an NFL field. That last game was against the New York Giants when he was carted off the field with his ankle injury.
Prescott has said that he has "buried" the injury after recovering from two surgeries. Unfortunately, it's looking more and more likely that fans won't be able to see if he looks like his old self until the stakes are higher.