FRISCO, Texas- If you've listened to Jason Garrett speak even once you probably know he's all about focusing on the day-to-day and embracing the challenge of the moment. But even the Cowboys' head coach couldn't downplay the difference a year has made for the role of Dak Prescott.
"Obviously, it's very different," Garrett said on Wednesday after the Cowboys' second day of OTAs. "If you think about him last year he was a rookie quarterback coming into the NFL. He would have just completed his second practice as an NFL player. So he's made a lot of strides in a short period of time."
And to be clear, Prescott wasn't exactly a featured player in that second practice one year ago. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said that Prescott had 99 percent more reps this time around.
Prescott remembered the same thing.
"It's funny just watching that film from last year day two I got about two reps the whole day compared to the reps I got today," Prescott said with smile. "It's a great improvement in number of reps, thankfully."
The story on Prescott's meteoric rise to a household name has always been focused on his incredible ability to seize on an opportunity, but just because he stepped in with a limited number of reps under his belt doesn't mean that increasing those reps won't benefit his growth.
"I think as a quarterback, really at every position, the number one way to get better is the number of reps," Prescott said. "Me just having a good bit of those this offseason, allows me to get better at footwork, get better at reads, get better at going through things faster, and being more accurate."
To Garrett and Prescott, all of that is necessary for the Cowboys to succeed. Garrett is confident putting heavy expectations on his young quarterback.
"He needs to get better in all phases of his game," Garrett said Wednesday. "He's working very hard to do that."
Less than an hour earlier, Prescott had brought up an identical sentiment.
"Every aspect of my game there's room for improvement."
All of that improvement will now come without the mentorship of Tony Romo who placed years worth of knowledge at Prescott's feet last season.
"He will be missed," Prescott said. "He was telling me a lot of things during those periods, during those games, and in the locker room, and on the practice field that will help me throughout my career."
But Prescott's rookie year's was one of the strangest a quarterback has ever had, as his underdog story coincided with, and played a hand in, the end of Romo's career. Fans and media discussed it to no end.
"It was not an easy situation for him to be in last year," Garrett said of Prescott. "He handled it really well."
That situation no longer exists, and there's no question that Prescott is now one of the Cowboy's leaders.
"Now when I say things people are listening, and I have the floor to say things now," Prescott said. "Last year I was just being quiet and just trying to fit my way in."
It's something that seemed unrealistic a year ago, but Garrett said the process began last year and his almost come full circle.[embeddedad0]
"As the year went on last year he definitely grasped more of the mantle of leadership," Garrett said. "He has a very natural way about him. People gravitate towards him and people follow him."
It's a big change in 365 days, but as time moves on you can be sure that Prescott will spend less and less time thinking about it.
"I don't look at what's behind me. I look at where I want to go."