One-armed Knife Sharpener
- Apr 7, 2013
By Jon Machota Jul 24, 2021
OXNARD, Calif. — After exiting the locker room, Dak Prescott slowly walked down the ramp of wood chips leading to the two grass practice fields behind the Residence Inn River Ridge hotel.
Despite AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” blaring over the speakers, the Cowboys quarterback appeared to be in deep thought as he had both hands on his helmet. Before reaching the closest end zone, Prescott looked down, paused for a few seconds and then kissed his right hand and pointed to the sky. It’s the same gesture he makes after scoring a touchdown.
Thursday was a little different than the start of his five previous training camps. This was the first time Prescott was coming back from a major injury.
“It was a special moment,” he said. “Just to think about where I was, think about all the hard work, all the support and everything that went into me getting back out there. And just being able to go do what I love again.”
As was the case during organized team activities and minicamp, Prescott showed no signs Thursday of having suffered a gruesome season-ending right ankle injury in Week 5 last season. He was a full participant for every individual and team drill on Thursday. It marked the first time he did full 11-on-11 drills since the injury.
Prescott said Friday that he didn’t experience much soreness after the team’s first camp practice, which wasn’t in full pads.
“There was no part of practice (Thursday) that I thought about my ankle,” Prescott said, “or thought about any physical thing holding me back.”
His first throw in seven-on-seven drills didn’t go quite as planned. Prescott was targeting wide receiver Michael Gallup on a comeback route near the left sideline when second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs jumped in front to record what appeared to be an interception.
Prescott and Diggs, the team’s top playmaking defensive back, then exchanged some friendly trash talk about the play.
“First off, he was out of bounds, well out of bounds,” Prescott said. “I don’t think he even got one foot in. I was making sure he knew that wasn’t an interception. You’ll probably see me and Diggs going at it all the time. He’s a competitive guy. I love the way he plays the game. I love his mentality.
“I’m just going to try to grow it, to be honest. It makes me better, it makes the receivers better, and he’s going to be better because of it and that’s going to make this team great.”
The next step in Prescott’s return from a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle will be taking a hit. That’s unlikely to happen in practice, but it could as soon as Aug. 5 when Dallas opens preseason play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that the plan is for Prescott to play during the preseason.
“I definitely want to play,” Prescott said. “As far as giving you a number or quantity of how much I need to, I just want to obviously get back out there and get some reps before it’s real. Just to have a live defense coming at me.
“Hopefully not take too many licks because I have great protection, but that’s part of the game, and I think it would obviously be great to get up from that, wipe it off and be just another process of burying the injury. I think it will be huge.”
With the Cowboys being one of the NFL’s reportedly 18 teams that are not at the 85 percent threshold for players fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Prescott was asked Friday if he has been fully vaccinated.
“I don’t necessarily think that’s exactly important,” he responded. “I think that’s HIPAA.”
HIPAA is in reference to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that protects medical patients from having their information disclosed without their consent. Reporters are not considered a covered entity under HIPAA, so asking a player, coach or front office member about a vaccination would not be a violation.
“I understand everybody’s opinion, and I think everybody has that right,” Prescott said. “We wouldn’t live in this country and we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in if that wasn’t the case. Obviously, we all have to do a better job of educating ourselves, of educating our neighbors just on this whole pandemic, just this whole situation, the vaccine. I know this team is going to get to the numbers. This team is going to do what we have to do to make sure we’re continually progressing through this thing the right way.”
With Prescott back healthy, the Cowboys’ offense has a chance to be among the NFL’s best. In the first four games before Prescott went down last season, Dallas was averaging 31.5 points per game, 407.8 passing yards per game and 509.5 total yards per game. The Kansas City Chiefs led the NFL last year with 303.4 passing yards and 415.8 total yards per game. The Green Bay Packers were the league’s highest-scoring team at 31.8 points per game.
Prescott said Friday that with the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends the Cowboys have, the passing game is “going to be limitless.”
So what are his overall expectations for the offense?
“Be the best offense in the NFL,” he said. “Stats, scoring, whatever you want to say, we want to be the best offense and we want to make sure we’re playing complementary football, first and foremost, with our defense and with our special teams.
“It’s just not about getting out there and throwing it 100 times. But it’s about playing complementary football, the run game, the pass game, the action game, and allowing the defense to get rest. Giving the defense a chance to get out there and to be their best when they’re out there as well.
“But first and foremost, just be the best offense in the NFL.”