ARLINGTON, Texas — The moment he got the news in Week 1 that Dak Prescott needed surgery for a fractured right thumb, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones admittedly felt "apprehension" about the team's immediate future, already staring an 0-1 start in the face.
"The first thing that happened that early, literally after the first game, I thought, "Oh, have we shortchanged ourselves? Have we really got this (backup quarterback) thing addressed?'" Jones said.
In three starts since, Cooper Rush has answered every one of Jones' questions about the team's depth at the game's most important position. The latest example: Rush's 223-yard, two touchdown performance in the Cowboys' 25-10 win over the Washington Commanders at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Prescott is making "great progress" since thumb surgery, Jones said. Almost a week since the stitches were removed, Prescott hasn't yet resumed full, normal throwing, according to Jones, but he was seen making a couple light, very short throws before practice this past Thursday.
"We certainly know that Dak, as we look to the future, that Dak is an ingredient to our success that's really a must. So we all understand that," Jones said.
The exact return date is TBD. Jones would not speculate on the possibility of Prescott being ready as soon as next Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Jones said the bone doesn't need to be completely healed because of the location of the fracture in his thumb and the plate that doctors inserted during the surgery.
But the primary question yet to be answered is how quickly Prescott can grip and throw the ball normally.
"I don't know. I really don't," Jones said. "I know that he does need to be able to grip and control and throw the ball. And he does need to do that so that the pain won't keep him from doing it. So I don't know if that's going to happen (by next week) or not. I do know that he's making great progress. He's certainly everything that I can see that I hoped when we didn't put him on IR. I'm glad we didn't have him on IR. … He's going to evolve (in practice) more and more. So that's good. It also feels good to know that Rush is playing at this level."
In the meantime, Rush — aided by a dominant defense that has allowed only four touchdowns in four games — has got them "back in the hunt" at 3-1, tied for second in the NFC.
Rush on Sunday became the first Cowboys quarterback in team history to win his first four starts — three straight this season and one at Minnesota last Halloween when Prescott was inactive with a calf injury.
As usual, Rush credited his teammates for the team's three-game win streak and gave a special shout-out to the defense, which has allowed an average of 15.5 points so far.
"They're the reason we're winning, it's just plain and simple," Rush said. "Those guys, I mean, 10 points (allowed) in the NFL is pretty impressive. … As an offense, knowing they have your back like that, it's huge. One of their messages is we have everyone's back. They walk the walk."
So has Rush, who has eased everyone's concerns — Jones' included — about the team's ability to compete until Prescott returns.