OXNARD, Calif.– Dak Prescott remembers the moment, nearly one year to the day, he took the first step up the depth chart from rookie third-string to the position he's in now: starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Aug. 3, 2016: Kellen Moore, then Tony Romo's primary backup, fractured his fibula near the end of practice. Suddenly, Prescott, a fourth-round pick, was next in line.
"Then to come in and hear the news and knowing Tony had that next day off, it was going from taking two reps or four reps that day at practice to going to be running the show the next day," he said. "But it was just about stepping up. It was an opportunity that happened unfortunately, and all I could think of at that moment was to just take advantage of it."
Romo injured his back in the third preseason game last August, and the rest is history: Prescott started all 16 games, won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and Romo was granted his release to take a CBS broadcasting job in April.
Fast forward to Monday: Prescott met with the media following the Cowboys' first camp walkthrough in an entirely new role than last year: a major face of the franchise.
The expectations are different. His approach doesn't change.
"Last year I came in and I was just trying to figure everything out," he said. "Being in this offseason, everything that I say, people are listening to. Everything that I do, people are watching. Not just you guys, but my teammates and the coaches as well. But that's fun to me. That's something that I embrace. I want that. I have to be at my best at all times. It's something that I take pride in."
As many game snaps as Prescott received last year – he started all 16 games and one playoff appearance – he's still a second-year player who needs practice reps. He'll benefit from a starter's workload from Day One this year.
Asked where he can improve, Prescott says the entire scope of the quarterback position: his drops, his accuracy, his technique and more.[embeddedad0]
To head coach Jason Garrett, that's the sign of a player focused on what he can do now, not how far he's come from third on the 2016 camp depth chart.
"He's the kind of guy who works on it after practice, he comes back the next day and he's better at whatever we're asking him to do," Garrett said. "He's always prepared, he's always striving to get better. And in my experience that's what the best ones have. They have that desire to be great, they're willing to try different things to break through and become a better player. He's certainly demonstrated that, really from Day 1."