FRISCO, Texas – The emotion is still fresh, but the journey back has already begun – albeit ever so slightly.
Asked about the status of Dak Prescott on Monday evening, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the star quarterback has been released from the hospital and is settling in at home.
"He's in very good spirits," McCarthy said. "I know he's excited to get home and start the journey back, as you would expect from Dak. He's doing OK."
From the time he was carted off the field in tears on Sunday afternoon, the primary concern has been Prescott's wellbeing. It's still a bit shocking to think of one of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks getting hurt at all, much less suffering a gruesome injury like a compound ankle fracture and dislocation.
That, on top of his well-documented character and charisma, easily explains the massive outpouring of support.
With a successful surgery behind him, though, there are bound to be questions about what's next – namely, a timeline for his return to action. Several reports have indicated that Prescott is looking at a 4-to-6 month recovery, which would put him back at 100% sometime in the spring.
McCarthy acknowledged hearing those suggested timelines, but he declined to speculate on them. Instead, he simply said he knows how hard Prescott will be working to return.
"I think that's been said a few times during the process, but I'm not the medical expert to put that timeline in place," he said. "I think, as you know – as I've found out in my short time here – he's going to challenge any timeline."
Anyone who's familiar with Prescott's work habits would agree with that assessment. But it is fair to say that is all a ways off. The 27-year-old is facing a bit of rest and recovery before he can even worry about rehab.
For a guy who has yet to miss an NFL start in more than four seasons, that's going to be an adjustment. As he prepares to be absent – really, for the first time in his major football career – McCarthy said his current priority is helping Prescott make that transition.
"My focus is more on Dak and make sure he gets the mental and support, because he's such a great teammate and he's the one that's always reaching out and doing so much for others," he said. "I think it's important for us at this time – and not just during these first couple days – to make sure he's getting the support for us to help him on his journey back."
It's a valid point. Across the years, football players have talked about the mental struggle of being unable to help due to injury. When he missed the 2018 season while battling Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Travis Frederick famously donned a headset as a de facto coach to stay involved and help the team however he could. McCarthy acknowledged that he thinks it's important for injured players to maintain some sense of involvement during their recovery.
"They don't want to feel like they're in the way, but at the end of the day we all miss the interaction and being around each other," he said. "I think that's an important component of this."
Obviously, the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 is another thing to consider. With so many moving parts, McCarthy said there isn't a plan yet for what Prescott's involvement will look like.
Again, it's still early in this process. To the surprise of no one, it sounds very much like Prescott will still have a role to play as he begins his recovery.
"As far as the exact plan of how he's going to be around, his rehab and so forth that hasn't been laid out in detail," McCarthy said. "The goal is to get him home today and get him relaxed and set up in his home environment, we'll definitely have a plan for him to be involved as much as he can."