FRISCO, Texas — It's only been seven months since Dak Prescott suffered a significant ankle injury requiring season-ending surgery. But Monday and Tuesday, the Cowboys quarterback was on the field with his teammates, helmet on and firing passes to his teammates.
This week's OTAs were the first time that the team was on the field together, but it was also a symbolic moment for the status of the quarterback who Dallas invested their future in this offseason.
"It felt great," Prescott said Tuesday after being on the field for practice. "After long months of recovery, I'm just excited that the game's back, and I'm glad to be a part of it."
If you paid close attention to the practices, you might have noticed a few aspects of team activities that Prescott didn't participate in, but they were not full-pads sessions and the quarterback was doing the majority of what his fellow quarterbacks were doing: running bootlegs, throwing passes, doing drills.
"I wouldn't necessarily say I'm limited," Prescott assured the media afterwards. "I think we're just being cautious, and I'm not doing things when there's a pass rush. As far as saying I can't do drills or I can't do something, I'm pretty much full-go."
It takes a lot for a player who suffered such a painful and psychologically frustrating injury to so quickly get to the point of feeling like he's a "full-go." But Prescott said that the confidence came to him fairly recently.
"Maybe close to a month ago," Prescott said of when he felt like he started to feel like his old self. "The first time I started jumping on this leg, cutting off this leg, doing a lot of things I would naturally do in a game and doing them in a reactive form instead of being calculated and not having a nagging residual pain afterwards. I felt like then I was ready to go."
One thing that differentiated Prescott from his teammates on Monday and Tuesday was what he called an "extended warmup." He could be seen on the field doing various exercises before most of the other players that he says gets his leg and the rest of his body going. He admitted that he didn't want to feel like he was starting practice on a "cold ankle" but he doesn't see the process as a nuisance.
"The extended warmup is something I actually like," Prescott clarified. "I wouldn't be surprised if you see me doing that long after this injury just because of the way it makes me feel."
Prescott's ankle injury was similarly gruesome to one suffered by former Dallas Cowboy Allen Hurns in 2019. Both seemed to foreshadow grim futures for the players who sustained them. But Hurns was back on the field for the first opportunity playing wide receiver for the Jaguars, a position that requires constant cutting off of his ankles.
"I talked to Allen," Prescott confirmed on Tuesday. "He was one of the ones who reached out to me after it happened. Just knowing how strong Allen was in his comeback and he was on the field the year after, just helps a little with confidence."
All of the rehab, the precautions, the confidence, and the support led Prescott to where he is now, back on the field for OTAs. It's a small step, but a significant one, and seeing him drop back in the pocket is no small thing to his teammates, who will need him at full-strength in order to redeem their 2020 season.