Prescott elated with injury rehab progress: ‘It’s like a high’
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has celebrated the little wins since October.
He was grateful when the compound fracture in his ankle avoided post-surgery infection in November, excited to show off a crutch-free hobble at Cowboys practice in December.
Now, six-and-a-half months removed from the designed run that went awry, Prescott is creeping toward full availability for the 2021 season. And he’s elated.
“I don't even know if you can put into words the feeling throwing again,” Prescott told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday over Zoom. “Not throwing sitting in a chair or throwing not moving, but actually dropping back and using your legs.
“It’s like a high. It’s like a drug for me.”
Prescott balances the joy of practicing football moves again with the satisfaction in discovering a new physical freedom each day that he didn’t enjoy the previous one. Walking in two shoes is no longer sufficient. In rehabilitation with Cowboys trainers and in voluntary offseason workouts, Prescott is active.
“(I can) jump and then take off sprinting, stop again and then cut,” he said, speaking in partnership with Sleep Number. “I’m pretty close to doing everything. I’m doing everything, to be honest with you. It may not feel exactly the way I want it to just yet. But each and every day, I take another step and I’ll feel something tomorrow I didn’t feel today. So it’s been fun.”
Prescott continues to defer to coaches and trainers on his limitations, noting that he may not fully integrate by mandatory offseason activities in late May and June.
“I think physically, I’ll be able to do the stuff,” he said. “However, doing things with players and stuff around me and a live rush, I’m not sure I’ll do that necessarily. I’ll leave that up to coaches and trainers.
“But I think by the time it’s time to go, I’ll be fine.”
Cowboys brass agreed Tuesday in a pre-draft press conference. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said he “couldn’t be happier” with Prescott’s progress, from his “contagious” work ethic to “elite” leadership. Jones said they expect Prescott to be “110 percent ready to go.”
“I was able to watch him work Saturday,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “It was probably his most extensive work so far. He's throwing now, doing the footwork drills. He's made a lot of progress. Very disciplined in his regimen.
“He's here almost every day, so I'd say he's right on track or maybe a little ahead of schedule.”
Prescott credits sleep, aided by his Sleep Number bed, with speeding his recovery process. He shared his process with expected first-round NFL draft quarterback prospects Mac Jones and Trey Lance.
Prescott—who signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension in March—joins a deep roster of injured offensive players expected to return for the Cowboys. Starters in All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (neck), right tackle La’el Collins (hip) and tight end Blake Jarwin (ACL) also suffered season-ending injuries early in 2020 before the Cowboys tumbled to 6-10 in McCarthy’s debut Dallas campaign. All are expected to fully recover in time to suit up for the 2021 season.
As they all join former Pro Bowlers in running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper, in addition to rising receivers Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, Prescott knows his group of weapons is deep even without chasing an elite 2021 prospect like tight end Kyle Pitts, whom Jerry Jones dreams about nabbing.
The Cowboys could opt for a top tackle like Oregon’s Penei Sewell or Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater if either — like Lamb at pick 17 last year — surprisingly falls to their slot. But more likely, Dallas was expected to devote the 10th overall pick Thursday night to upgrade a historically bad franchise defense. Prescott supports that.
“Obviously, players, we talk amongst ourselves,” he said. “I’m thinking obviously it’ll be a defensive draft, a heavy defensive draft. Obviously you always want some weapons, you always want some things on your side to make you feel better.
“But we’ve got a lot (of) talent on our side of the ball.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein