That rookie sensation quarterback Dak Prescott has handled defenses like an NFL veteran is one reason he took the Dallas Cowboys starting job away from the team’s all-time leading passer in Tony Romo.
So would anyone think he wouldn’t handle questions from a gaggle of reporters regarding Romo’s emotional concession speech on Tuesday with the same aplomb, grace and headiness?
Prescott was peppered with 18 consecutive questions about Romo and the official starting role before he was even asked about Sunday’s game with the Baltimore Ravens, but he stood in the pocket and delivered strike after strike.
For much of the season, Prescott has said this was Romo’s team and he was leading it until Romo returned. He declined an opportunity to finally proclaim the team as his own.
“Nobody’s ever going to tell me this is my team,” Prescott said. “As I said a couple of weeks ago, this is a team and it’s the reason we’re winning. When the starting quarterback at the beginning of the year says what he says yesterday, it shows this is everybody’s team. It’s not just about the quarterback position. This is our team.
“Everybody plays a part in our success in what’s happened and they’ll play a part in the adversity that comes. The quarterback position always gets the blame and the credit. But if you look around and you watched the game Sunday, you see this is a true team and everybody’s playing their part.”
Prescott didn’t watch Romo’s speech live, but he did receive parts of it through social media and came away impressed.
“It was emotional. It was heartfelt. It was sincere,” Prescott said. “It’s a guy that loves what he does, loves this team. It’s an emotional statement for him to come out and say that. But I’m not surprised. I know how much he cares about this game.
“I know what it means to him, how much he puts into it every day and what this team means to him. He’s been a great leader, a great model for me to look up to and watch every day so I’m not surprised.”
Prescott made it clear that he and Romo have had a good relationship from the beginning and the statement was more for the media and fans than for him or the team.
He said they have talked constantly about the situation and that many of the things Romo said in his speech he already communicated with him privately.
“I felt like I’ve had his support from Day One, from Day One of getting the starting job,” Prescott said. “As I said, yesterday is no different from two weeks ago in the way I felt about Tony and the way he feels about me. As I said, I feel like it was a press conference for the public. It was nothing new to this team and how he feels.”
Prescott, however, made it clear that nothing changes for him. He will approach practice and games just as he has over the first nine weeks of the season while leading the Cowboys to an eight-game winning streak. He also tied an NFL rookie record for consecutive wins while becoming the fourth rookie to have seven games with a 100.0 or better passer rating.
But official validation that he has lived out a childhood dream is admittedly something special.
“It’s cool. It’s a blessing. It just shows all the hard work I’ve put in over the years, from the time as a little kid acting like I was the Cowboys’ quarterback, to a couple of months ago training at the [scouting] combine,” he said. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, but to be a part of this great organization is special.”
Coach Jason Garrett said Prescott doesn’t have to worry about getting a quick hook. He will get a chance to play through his mistakes just as he has all season.
“We certainly don’t want any of our players looking over their shoulder when they play,” Garrett said. “We want to instill confidence in them going into the game. One of the best things Dak has done is handle the different ups and downs of a ballgame, the different adversities and continue to play.
“That’s been a good thing for our football team. I think the rest of our team has done a good job of that. So we’ll continue to approach it that way and he’ll take full advantage of the opportunities he gets.”
Romo has not played in a regular-season game in 51 weeks, dating to Thanksgiving Day last season. He threw only 121 passes last season, and was injured after just three series in the preseason over two games.
With Romo preparing to be the backup against Baltimore after missing the first nine games with a fractured bone, Garrett decided to alter the practice schedule to get him some extra work.
Normally, the starting quarterback gets all the work with the first-team offense during the week with backups getting their work on the scout team.
Garrett will not diminish any reps for Prescott, who still needs all the work he can get. But he will add some additional time to the team periods so Romo can get some work with the first team.
“Dak’s going to get his normal reps, but we’re going to try to get Tony some opportunities at the end of those periods,” Garrett said. “Dak’s reps will not change. We’ve adjusted practices in other ways so we’ll have a few more plays in the team period; we’ll be shorter in other spots of practice.”
Cowboys vs. Ravens
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