FRISCO, Texas – At the risk of sounding dramatic, Wednesday felt a bit like uncharted territory.
Dak Prescott took the field with the Dallas Cowboys and was in attendance for the first practice of Week 16. But thanks to a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday, he was listed as limited on the team's official practice report – which is a first for one of the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I think this is the first time he's ever missed a walkthrough or a practice, so it was a little weird," said Zack Martin on Wednesday afternoon.
Martin is correct. Despite dealing with various injuries over the course of his career, including two hand injuries just last week, Prescott had never been anything less than a full participant in nearly four years' worth of practices.
"Knowing Dak, you'd have to kill to keep him off the field," Martin added.
Prescott injured the shoulder on the second possession of the 44-21 win against L.A., when he carried the ball on a quarterback keeper and was dragged down from behind by Clay Matthews. At the time, the hit didn't seem to bother him, though Ezekiel Elliott classified it as an AC joint injury.
As someone who has battled through his share of AC joint injuries, Elliott said it'll likely be painful, but manageable.
"I couldn't imagine having to throw with it," he said. "But if I know Dak, I know his toughness, I know he'll play."
Still, it was strange to see Prescott at practice on Wednesday, holding a football but never throwing it. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Prescott likely wouldn't do much throwing, and Cooper Rush confirmed after practice that he did most of the first-team work.
"Just go in there and do your job. That's the job as a backup," Rush said. "You don't have to rewrite the offense, we've got a lot of good players. Just stay within the system, trust your coaches and you'll be fine."
With any luck, Prescott can ramp up his activity as the week goes along, as is the custom with veterans working their way back from injury. But for a guy who makes his living with his throwing shoulder, it seems at least a little disconcerting.
Well, to anyone outside the locker room, at least. From the inside, there's very little doubt that Prescott will be ready.
"He's as tough as they come," Garrett said. "His physical toughness and mental toughness are on par with anybody I've been around and that's just what he's all about."