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Dak Prescott (shoulder) could miss a couple of weeks — raising concerns for Cowboys’ backup QBs

The Cowboys didn’t aggressively pursue another veteran quarterback in the offseason.

OXNARD, Calif. — Coaches and players have offered testimonials for months about how good Dak Prescott looks.

The Cowboys quarterback spoke of burying his injury and gave assurances that his surgically repaired ankle wouldn’t limit him coming into training camp.

No one said anything about an arm that could potentially keep him out for two weeks.

Prescott took the field for Wednesday’s practice but left without taking part in team drills. Three hours after practice was done, the club provided an update stating an MRI showed that the quarterback had a muscle strain in his right shoulder.

Sources said Prescott suffered a latissimus strain, the muscle that connects the bone of the upper arm to the spine and the hip. A mild or Grade 1 strain — which this is believed to be — typically requires a couple of weeks to heal.

A diagram of Dak Prescott's injury.
A diagram of Dak Prescott's injury.(Michael Hogue)

“I felt some soreness when making certain throws today, and I really just decided not to push things too far,’' Prescott said in a statement. “Better to be cautious and smart about it.

“I don’t see this as any kind of serious setback. We’ll treat it on a daily basis and I’ll be fine.’'

Downplaying the significance of the injury was consistent across the organization. Prescott still sat down for interviews with TV stations from the DFW market that had been previously scheduled, even though they were pushed back four hours to accommodate his MRI and treatment.

But face it. Nothing sucks the air out of the first padded practice like watching your starting quarterback jog off the field before team drills are underway. The energy level immediately dropped.

No team wants to lose their starting quarterback to a sore arm after only four practices. Do you know how many practices Prescott missed with a sore arm before Wednesday in his five-plus seasons with the Cowboys?

None.

Prescott’s unexpected departure puts the spotlight on Garrett Gilbert early in this camp. The backup quarterback spoke of filling in for Prescott in Wednesday’s practice before knowing how long the starter may be out.

“I think I’d be doing myself and those guys a disservice if I tried to be Dak out on the field when I was out there,’' Gilbert said. “Certainly, there are some things that are going to sound the same as far as cadence and that sort of thing.

“But I feel like when I’m out there I’m operating my own offense there, not trying to be like him.’'

Prescott had every intention of going through the first padded practice of this camp. But when it reached the stage where the quarterbacks were to take turns throwing to the receivers, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore walked up to Gilbert.

“Hey, you’re up,’' Moore told the backup quarterback. “You got the team stuff.’'

Moore then said, “all right, let’s roll’' as Gilbert joined the starters.

“Yeah, it’s part of being a backup quarterback,’' Gilbert said. “You’ve got to always be ready to step in at any point.

“That’s all it was today, an opportunity to step in there and get some reps with the ones.’'

Gilbert declined to say what Prescott told him, saying he’d let No. 4 speak for himself. Prescott did talk to Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin before leaving the field for the afternoon.

“Hey, I’m going to go in and do my treatment stuff and make sure this is alright,’' Prescott told the two tight ends.

The Cowboys didn’t aggressively pursue another veteran quarterback in the offseason. Gilbert didn’t take that lack of pursuit as an unqualified vote of confidence.

“You know, I think for me that was never a focus of mine,’' Gilbert said “Obviously, I want to win the backup job. That’s my goal. That’s all of our goals that are here behind Dak.

“But I think to focus on who I’m competing with specifically would be getting in the way of what I’m trying to do and how I’m trying to improve every day. So my goal is to simply go out there, get better, be the best quarterback I can be for this team and let the chips fall where they may.

“I think that has served me well in the past and that’s what I’ll continue to focus on every day.’'

Gilbert will now focus on more reps than he envisioned as he prepares to be Prescott’s backup going into the season. How many practices Prescott misses remains to be seen.

“It’s the second week of training camp,’' Schultz told reporters. “You don’t need to be throwing with a sore arm.’'

True. But you also don’t want your 28-year-old quarterback to be dealing with a sore arm in late July.

Still, in this case, it’s better than a sore ankle.

Catch David Moore on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) with the Musers, BaD radio and the Hardline during Cowboys training camp.

Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

In This Story

David Moore, Cowboys Insider. David is in his 4th decade of covering sports on the DFW scene. You know what that means. He's old.

dmoore@dallasnews.com @DavidMooreDMN
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