When the Cowboys return from their bye week to face the Vikings, they expect Andy Dalton to be their starting quarterback for their trip to Minnesota.
Garrett Gilbert, who started in Dallas’ 24-19 Sunday loss to the Steelers, would be their second option should Dalton not clear concussion and COVID-19 reserve protocols. Veteran journeyman Cooper Rush ranks as their third.
But amid a five-week stretch with four different starters, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones offered a glimmer of good news about the team’s quarterback luck.
Five-year starter Dak Prescott, who suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle on Oct 11, is ahead of his recovery schedule.
“He’s been able to avoid any setbacks,” Jones said when asked if Prescott had avoided infection akin to what Washington quarterback Alex Smith battled back from. “If anything, he’s ahead of schedule—which shouldn’t be surprising, the way he goes after every challenge.
“It’s full speed ahead with Dak, and he’s done a great job to this point.”
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Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys is carted off the field after sustaining a leg injury against the New York Giants during the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo: Tom Pennington, Getty Images)
Prescott suffered the fracture and dislocation in the third quarter of a Week 5 matchup with the Giants. After a designed run went awry, Prescott was splinted and carted off the field and into a waiting ambulance. He underwent emergency surgery to clean and repair the wound that night and was discharged from the hospital the following day.
He has rehabbed intermittently at the Star, encouraging the revolving door of quarterbacks that has since followed him in Dallas games.
Prescott’s timeline for recovery was set at four months, a mark Jones said he’s on pace to challenge. The team hopes he’ll be ready for offseason work ahead of a 2021 season, in which the Cowboys must decide whether and through what means to re-sign him.
Before his injury, Prescott started 72 straight games, including postseason appearances, for the franchise. He hadn’t missed a contest since Dallas selected him in the fourth round, 135th overall, of the 2016 NFL draft.
Prescott threw for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns to four interceptions in just four and a half games this season. He scored three rushing touchdowns and one receiving score. Prescott also set NFL records as he passed for at least 450 yards in each of three complete games preceding his injury.
Prescott signed a $31.4 million franchise tender for the 2020 NFL season when he and the Cowboys failed to reach a long-term agreement before the July 15 deadline. Both sides have publicly maintained they want to stay together for the future. No formal negotiations can commence until the season concludes. Jones said Monday that management has conversed sparingly with Prescott since his Oct. 11 injury. He dismissed the notion that Dallas would consider 2021 quarterback prospects even as the 2-7 team looks destined for a high draft slot
“Dak’s our quarterback and we’re so fired up about him and him leading us in the future,” Jones said. “Like I said, we’re focused week to week right now on getting better each week.
“Certainly we’re fired up about our future with Dak.”
Follow USA Today Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
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