It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys turned the keys to the team over to quarterback Dak Prescott during his rookie season when he officially supplanted Tony Romo as the starter.
It was the beginning of the process that sent Romo, the team’s all-time leading passer, out of the league and into a broadcasting career this offseason.
Still, for Prescott, earning the job in 2016 with arguably the best season of any rookie quarterback in NFL history when nothing was expected of you and now leading the team in the offseason when you are considered the new franchise quarterback are two different things.
Tight end Jason Witten, linebacker Sean Lee and the other veteran leaders have done their part in helping Prescott grab the mantle by making a point to empower him during organized workouts.
“Dak has earned that with what he did as a rookie,” Witten said during the Reliant Home Run Derby at Dr Pepper Ballpark. “He understands you have to get back at it. You have to recommit. And establish it again, certainly for a guy in second year. And I have to do it in my 15th year.
“He is the quarterback. That voice needs to be heard. He’s earned that. He has had a great offseason and how he has approached it. As he moves forward he will be more comfortable with that.
“For all us, you try to empower him and help him and he’s done a great job. I can’t say enough great things about how he’s gone about it so far.”
The Cowboys raised a total of $50,000 for the Salvation Army with their effort in the Home Run Derby, including a total of $31,400 from the players trying their hand at hitting a baseball.
Witten finished second overall behind the champion, coach Jason Garrett.
Prescott didn’t play baseball growing up because he was focused on football, but he clubbed a respectable six home runs.
He said the Home Run Derby was a fun getaway for a great cause for a Cowboys team already focused on next season.
He acknowledges that going into the offseason as the unquestioned starter is quite different than year ago, when he came to the Cowboys as a fourth-round draft pick and developmental project from Mississippi State.
“It’s completely different,” Prescott said. “This is my first offseason running the show. I’m excited for it. I just take it for what it is. I take it day by day and just having fun. I got great vets around me, supporting me, helping me and pushing me up.”
Prescott’s leadership skills as a rookie were one of the most impressive things about him in 2016. But there is no question that this offseason is different and he appreciates that Witten and Lee are making a point to call him to the front.
“I got to thank all the vets for doing a good job, fiving me more to say and things to do,” Prescott said. “When you are in the locker room and working out with Jason Witten and Sean Lee, you let them have it. But for them to call me out sometimes to get the group together, it’s been good.”
So what does Prescott think he needs to work on in the offseason so he can improve on his magical rookie season?
“I’m only one season in, so the whole game,” Prescott said. “I can watch film better. Be better in my dropbacks. Be more accurate.
“It’s a lot I can get better at.”