FRISCO, Texas – To hear it from him, if Dak Prescott was the only one making the decision, he'd be playing Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, Prescott made it abundantly clear. If this game against the Minnesota Vikings was a playoff game, or at the very least a do-or-die situation for this Dallas Cowboys team, he'd be available.
"It'd be no question – 100% no question," he said.
Therein lies the conversation that will take place over the next few days. It's late October, and the playoffs are a long way away. On top of that, the Cowboys hold a commanding lead in the NFC East at 5-1, and they perhaps can afford to consider the big picture more than others.
So while Prescott acknowledges that he wants to play, he was willing to weigh the other side of the coin when it comes to his injured calf.
There's also the simple fact that, at the end of the day, he isn't making this decision by himself.
"If it was my call and it was totally up to me, yes," he said. "But this is something that, I agree with the experts, I don't want to linger. I don't want this to be week after week, are we going through this?"
It's not a perfect comparison, but Prescott likened his calf to the shoulder strain he suffered at the outset of training camp. Throughout the Cowboys' stay in Oxnard, Calif., he and other team officials insisted it was not a major injury, and that they simply wanted to rest it to keep it from becoming a recurring issue.
The same applies to this injury, it's just that the Cowboys don't have the luxury of time on their side. That said, Prescott said he'd still prefer to put this problem behind him as quickly as possible.
"Something I want to nip in the butt, make sure I'm healthy and ready to go so I don't think about it playing and we're not having these conversations past today," he said.
Prescott is fortunate in the sense that players are only obligated to speak publicly once per week, so this is likely the last time he'll have to talk about it prior to Sunday night. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, however, has been peppered with questions all week, and it's a good bet that will continue into Friday.
"I think there are certain things that you do when you're coming off these injuries," McCarthy said. "It's the same for all of the players, particularly the lower extremities. At the end of the day, the player needs to be able to play free of mind. That's the ultimate goal."
Prescott and McCarthy are two of several voices that'll ultimately shape this decision. Perhaps the most knowledgeable is that of Britt Brown, the Cowboys' associate athletic trainer and their director of rehabilitation. It's Brown who helps all Cowboys players in their return from injury, and it's Brown who has been working closely with Prescott this past week – not to mention for the past year, during his return from ankle surgery.
"He knows how I am, and like I said a lot of this, I think, in a sense is them protecting me from myself,
Prescott said. "Them knowing that the way I treat this game, the way that I play. So that's what a lot of that is, just communicating how I feel, what exactly I'm feeling, whether it's a pain or a tightness or a weakness or whatever it may be."
Whichever thresholds Prescott might have to cross to be cleared to play, he said the coaching staff hasn't divulged. And however angry he might be if he isn't given the go-ahead, he said he'd understand the reasoning for it.
None of that has been decided as of yet. Because the Cowboys still have days to go until decision time – which means Prescott still has time to improve his standing. Understanding the way he's attacked every other setback during this past year, you can bet he'll do exactly that.
"I don't know if the decision comes Saturday or when it comes, but yeah I'm doing everything I can to make sure I give myself the best chance," he said.