Is Dak Prescott starting for the Cowboys on Sunday? ‘I am’

FRISCO, Texas – Last Saturday, Dak Prescott took snaps as scout team quarterback.

The Dallas Cowboys star progressed Sunday to 50 scripted throws ahead of kickoff against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, then threw on a pitch count to wide receivers during Wednesday’s practice.

So by Thursday, as the medically cleared quarterback faced the Cowboys’ starting defense in two-minute drills during team period, linebacker Micah Parsons had no sympathy.

Forget the thumb fracture that sidelined Prescott for five games.

Forget the swelling he needed to reduce and the grip strength that took more time than he’d like to regain.

Prescott would see no free plays against the league’s eighth-best defense.

“Welcome back to the s *** show,” Parsons told his quarterback. “Just because you come back, that don’t mean nothing going to change around this s ***. This is our s *** right here. “

Prescott proceeded to guide his teammates to a touchdown.

Sunday, as the 4-2 Cowboys host the 1-4 Detroit Lions, expect that Prescott will be the starter for the first time since the Sept. 11 season opener.

“I am,” he confirmed Thursday afternoon.

Prescott jokingly added, “I think, anyways,” before detailing he will not wear a brace in the contest. He may wear medical tape that provides comfort, though not protection, for his thumb di lui. But Prescott said he was not limited or on a specific rep count during Thursday’s practice. His surgeon requires no further follow-ups to examine the still-scarred thumb. Prescott will continue treatment for his thumb of him but play as usual.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is starting Sunday against the Detroit Lions, or so he said Thursday.  (AP Photo / LM Otero)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is starting Sunday against the Detroit Lions, or so he said Thursday. (AP Photo / LM Otero)

“I’m not going to act like I didn’t have a broken bone a few weeks ago,” he said of the continuing maintenance. “But for the most part, I’m healthy, feels good, grab the ball in my hand, my grip’s great.

“Putting it behind me and focusing on this game plan. I feel fine. “

The key now, Prescott, coaches and teammates say, is re-establishing rhythm and timing. Prescott’s arm strength dictates a slightly quicker release than that of backup quarterback Cooper Rush, who led the team to a 4-1 mark in Prescott’s absence of him. Receivers will and already have begun to adjust. Prescott, too, returns to a team he described as more equipped to win than the unit with which he opened the season.

“Feeling comfortable and actually establishing an identity in a sense,” Prescott said.

In Prescott’s absence, the Cowboys’ pestering defense and relentless ground game powered them to victories. Dallas has limited five of six opponents to just one touchdown while generating a league-best 24 sacks.

Rush did not turn the ball over in his four wins, before throwing three interceptions in Sunday’s 26-17 loss to the undefeated Eagles. The Cowboys rushed for just 71 yards in the season opener when Prescott last played; they have since averaged 128.4 yards on the ground behind the two-headed monster of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

The Cowboys’ offensive line has improved meaningfully since Week 1, rookie first-round left tackle Tyler Smith settling in to his hastily shifted role. Dallas has largely regained Connor McGovern at left guard after an ankle injury sidelined him for two games, too, with the continuity prompting a dip in offensive penalties and pressures. Rush was pressured four to six times each of the last three weeks, compared with the 11 Prescott endured in 3 1/2 quarters during the opener.

Prescott also returns to new weapons in receiver Michael Gallup (return from ACL) and a pair of rookie tight ends making a fast start in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot.

The Lions allow a league-worst 428.6 yards and league-worst 167.6 rushing yards on defense. Their passing defense is only slightly better, ranking 26th.

The Cowboys, who lag behind the 6-0 Eagles and 5-1 New York Giants in a competitive NFC East, have a chance to capitalize.

“We’re coming off a loss,” Elliott said. “I think it’s kind of weird to come off a loss on prime time to come into a Sunday noon game lackadaisical. We still have a lot to prove. We still got to win this division.

“Right now, it’s a little bit of an uphill battle, but we’re going to have to scratch and claw our way out of it.”

Prescott, meanwhile, has a chance to silence a chorus of doubters that has spiked at times during his absence.

He knows he opened the season completing just 48.3% of passes for 134 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in a 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rush then completed 57.7% of attempts for 1,020 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in his absence of him, posting an 80.1 passer rating to Prescott’s 47.2.

Prescott, who ascended to starter immediately as a rookie fourth-round pick in 2016, can now re-establish the talent that has guided him to a 53-33 career record with 22,217 yards, 143 passing touchdowns and 51 interceptions.

He can show what receiver CeeDee Lamb said was apparent in practices.

“He looks like Dak. He’s back, ”Lamb said of Prescott’s zip and accuracy in team drills. “He made some throws, big-time throws, 1-on-1s and team periods. He feels confident.

“He has all the energy and emotion and buzz ready to play.”

Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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