FRISCO, Texas – Let's be real here.
There would seem to be very little, if any chance that Dak Prescott plays this Sunday night against the Eagles at The Linc. This is just common sense. The Cowboys aren't playing semantics here to buffalo the Eagles as some skeptics are surmising, hoping to hide the fact he's secretly ready to go or trying to make it look like there is a possibility he will start in Philadelphia.
Dak had surgery on Sept. 12 to repair a fracture below his right thumb, including inserting a plate in there to accelerate the healing. It's now Oct. 12, the day before owner Jerry Jones' 80th birthday. That's 30 days since the surgery. And the general rule of medicine is fractured bones usually need six weeks to heal. We are at like four weeks and two days.
And Dak hasn't participated in even one practice. Jones basically said it comes down to if he can "spin the ball," meaning throwing it with authority. Wednesday is the first day he threw lightly in the pre-practice quarterback school drills, uh, left-handed, and then was throwing at the conclusion of practice to receivers, meaning more than just playing catch. Dak will continue to rehab, making sure his legs are strong, and get in his conditioning.
As head coach Mike McCarthy said, "This will be the first time throwing to some receivers," and as Dak said afterward when asked how it felt, he said, "Solid."
And when then asked if he had any pop on the ball, Dak said, "I always got some pop on the ball."
Good, a step forward, but as McCarthy cautioned, "We are preparing for Cooper to start against the Eagles," as in Cooper Rush, who has quarterbacked the Cowboys to victories over these past four games.
And here is an angle no one seems to pursue: When will Dak be able to take a snap under center, since you'd hate to be in shotgun for an entire game. That's right, a snap. Do yourself a favor. Simulate the snap from center. Position your hands in a V and imagine the ball coming up into your grip. Where do you think the brunt of the ball will hit? Right against that right thumb, right?
The last thing you want is for that ball to bend back an unstable thumb. Remember, that is how the fracture occurred in the first place, by the thumb being bent backwards. All this means that throwing the ball is one thing, but taking the snap successfully is a whole 'nuther matter.
Was told he did take some snaps with the ball handed to him, though was pointed out, if need be, Dak can reserve his hands on the snap, putting his left hand on top to better absorb the pressure.
While he's still in the medical phase, the wrap he wears around the thumb and lower hand area is more of an elastic one just to keep everything tight.
So maybe next week if he's able to take all the snaps in practice, especially on Thursday ahead of the home game against Detroit, and if he suffers no residual effect from throwing on Wednesday, maybe he's good to go.
Just remember the initial timetable was six to eight weeks.
And believe me, not playing Sunday against the Eagles has nothing to do with Rush winning four straight games buying the Cowboys time for Dak's return. Mother Nature can't be bribed.
- About Time: For the second time in his career, Micah Parsons was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Cowboys 22-10 win over the Rams. And for good reason, other than he's tied for the NFL lead in sacks with six. After suffering a strained groin in the first half against the Rams, which kept him out of practice on Wednesday, Parsons ended up with five tackles, two sacks, a tackle for a loss and five QB hits/pressures. Most impressive is when his sacks occur, seemingly always at critical times in the game. His first sack against Los Angeles came on a third-and-11 play with the Rams marching at the Cowboys' 47-yard line with 3:39 left in the third quarter, nailing Matthew Stafford for an 11-yard loss and forcing a punt. The second took place with 1:39 left in the game, the Rams trying to make a last-ditch comeback effort with the Cowboys leading, 22-10, and facing a second-and-7 at the Dallas 28-yard line. Not only did Parsons take down Stafford, but also forced a fumble that Sam Williams recovered. Ball game and his second NFC DPW.
- Hurts Imposter: Hardest part of preparing for a quarterback like Philly's Jalen Hurts is trying to mimic his talents in practice. For that the Cowboys have turned to Will Grier, now the game-day backup quarterback to Rush with Dak on the mend. As he points out, if we had watched him in college, you'd know he has some of Hurts' same characteristics, the ability to scramble around, throw on the run and run out of the pocket. Said he gave that look when he was at Carolina with the Panthers getting ready to play Arizona's Kyler Murray, so this is nothing new to him. And when asked if it's fun to simulate a quarterback like Hurts on the scout team, Grier said, "Fun, yeah, playing ball, man. Can't beat it."
- Underdogs Again: So, we know what McCarthy thinks of points spreads, making sure we all understood last week, saying, "We're nobody's underdog" when it was pointed out the Rams were 5½ -point favorites. Well, once again the Cowboys are 5½-point underdogs to the Eagles, and when Ezekiel Elliott was asked about that betting line, he too scoffed, saying, "That (stuff) don't matter; underdogs don't matter." Just as the Rams discovered this past Sunday.
- Getting Tighter: Partially out of necessity and partly out of opportunity, the Cowboys signed former Houston Cougars tight end Seth Green, who played his high school ball at nearby Allen High, to the practice squad. A former high school quarterback, Green's a pretty athletic tight end at 6-4, 240. But also the Cowboys really needed another tight end for practice purposes with Dalton Schultz (knee) and Jake Ferguson (knee) both limited in practice Wednesday and Schultz playing just 10 snaps on Sunday.
- Small Bites: This is a good one: With Tony Pollard's 57-yard touchdown run against the Rams, he is one of four running backs with four rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards since 2020, along with Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor. Maybe even more impressive since the other three are given more touches per game. … Here is another goody: The Cowboys will be gunning for their ninth consecutive NFC East win Sunday in Philadelphia, their last division loss coming in the final game of the 2020 season to the Giants. … Here is another good reason why the Cowboys signed offensive lineman Jason Peters, last playing all those years with the Eagles in 2020 and now giving the Cowboys offensive linemen some tips on how to play against the likes of defensive linemen Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat.
And let's give the final word to Thursday's birthday boy, owner Jerry Jones turning 80, talking about the effect Dak Prescott will have on the Cowboys as soon as he is ready to return from the fracture bone just below the thumb, which quite possibly can be as early as next week's game against Detroit, especially since the recent formula with Rush at quarterback of playing defense, running the ball and being willing to punt has won the Cowboys four consecutive games.
"When you've got an elite or if you've got a highly skilled quarterback that by all measurements, and make no mistake about it, Dak Prescott has had a good supporting cast during his career," Jones began during his Tuesday segment on 105.3 the Fan. "But on the other hand, Dak Prescott does measurable things that are really unique. And, of course, the leadership thing is off the charts. And having said that, we'll take advantage (of his return).
"Do we need that extra spurt in being able to make a game-winning play, one of the big plays over 20 yards? Do we need that at quarterback? Yes we do. And thank goodness we're in a situation where we're successful, really not having had that dimension. When we get him back, that will be a real additive. We'll be a mess if we can keep playing defense like this."
Sounds like a birthday wish come time to blow out all those candles on Thursday, when unlike some people, I'm betting Jerry doesn't take his birthday off.