The Dallas Cowboys season in 60 seconds: Watch
It will be several months before it is truly known if Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott can improve on what was the best season of any rookie quarterback in NFL history.
But it won’t be because of a lack of effort, work ethic or desire.
In those areas, Prescott is already a better player and a better quarterback.
Quartebacks coach Wade Wilson said Prescott has surpassed his rookie numbers in the team’s off-season program in terms of speed, strength and agility.
Tested with his teammates in the 20-yard dash, bench press, cone drills, vertical jump among others, Prescott is faster and stronger heading into his second season.
“They tested last Monday,” Wilson said Wednesday during the media availability of the first week of OTA practices. “He has improved strength-wise, flexibility-wise, speed-wise, quickness-wise. He is not resting on anything that went on last year.”
Prescott credits his work in Orlando with coach Tom Shaw, who prepared him for the draft last year, as well as the off-season work with Cowboys strength coach Mike Woicik.
“My numbers went up,” Prescott said. “It’s just working hard continuously. That is how I have gotten to where I am in life. I’m not going to forget that and keep working hard. … I don’t look at what’s behind me. I look at where I can go and what I can do. The only way I know to do that is through hard work. That is something I continue to try to do.”
Prescott said he focused primarily on footwork with Shaw in Orlando, but acknowledges he can improve in every aspect of his game
It was that leadership and work ethic that caught the Cowboys’ attention last year when he joined them as a fourth-round developmental project from Mississippi State before taking over in preseason for an injured Tony Romo. He snatched the reigns as the team’s franchise quarterback while leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the NFC East title.
Wilson said nothing was “too big for that kid” and “nothing fazed him” so he expects no drop off in Year Two, now that Romo has gone to the broadcast booth, leaving him as starting quarterback.
Coach Jason Garrett said Prescott’s off-field work ethic only enhances his natural ability as a leader in the locker room.
“What we know about Dak, and we have known about him right from the start, is he comes in and he handles himself in a very professional manner and he is always trying to get better,” Garrett said. “He is just one of those guys and he is a great example for a coach to use with the other players on the team. They naturally follow him.”
Prescott said he is enjoying his first off-season as the primary quarterback, taking the majority of the reps in practice.
“Yeah, it’s funny just watching that film from last year,” Prescott said. “I mean I got two reps out of the whole day compared to the reps I get today.”
Yes, Prescott got just two reps in his first practice during OTAs last year.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he is getting 99 percent more reps now, giving him a chance to improve in every aspect of the game.
“There’s a lot of plays that we ran in spring ball that he didn’t get reps at,” Linehan said. “Literally, he was splitting reps with the third group last year at this time. Now he’s taking all the reps with the 1s. That’s a big difference, right? He didn’t have those reps.”
So what’s his upside for Year Two?
“I think the upside is we know we’ve got the right kind of guy that’s going to work his butt off to get better daily and will hold himself accountable so that he can be accountable to his teammates,” Linehan said.
His work ethic says as much as his improved numbers over a year ago.