Dallas Cowboys

With Jason Witten and Dez Bryant gone, the Cowboys are definitely Dak Prescott's team now

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is focusing on his footwork and drops in the pocket during OTAs to improve as a passer.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is focusing on his footwork and drops in the pocket during OTAs to improve as a passer. Star-Telegram

With Jason Witten and Dez Bryant gone, there has been a curiosity among members of the local media about who will fill the leadership void with Dallas Cowboys.

Curiously and more pointedly, it’s not even been a thought among the coaches and players, old and new, at the Cowboys’ world headquarters at the Star in Frisco.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is large and in charge as the face of the franchise. And as the Cowboys head into their second week of OTAs, there is no question that it’s his team now.

It’s something he’s prepared for since taking over the Cowboys starting job as a rookie in 2016. He doesn’t plan on changing now.

“No. Not at all,” Prescott said. “Those guys did a great job encouraging me to be the leader that I am, kind of making me take charge. So now with those guys gone it’s really no different. Nobody trying to tell me to do it, nobody making me do it. It’s becoming more and more natural. It’s having fun, just getting those guys going.”

Whose leadership style is Prescott's more like: Witten or Bryant?

“I’d say Witt. Just I mean, Witt had a lot of super, super high expectations on and off the field. Witt is a guy I look up to in every aspect of his life. He has done everything the right way, being a Cowboy on and off the field, setting an example for me from being a fan of Jason Witten to being able to share the locker room and being able to throw the ball to him, being a teammate. He never changed one bit. I look up to him and trying to be the leader that he was.”

There is nobody better positioned to seize control and nobody else the Cowboys would want to do it. More importantly, it just comes naturally for Prescott.

“You have to make it important to have a relationship with almost anybody,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It’s easy for a quarterback to be on the offensive side and kind of stay in his lane and do all that stuff. But I’ve said this a number times, there’s never really a time during the course of the day that he doesn’t make sure that he has some kind of, I don’t know exchange or conversation, appearance with everybody. He knows it’s important that he shows the whole team that that’s as important to him as the offense. Yeah, I think he has to work at that but he also embraces that and really enjoys it.”

Prescott also no longer has to defer to an older veteran out of respect or to avoid stepping on toes or feelings. When he took over the job from Tony Romo as a rookie two years ago, he walked on eggshells around the question of “whose team was it”. He said then it was “everybody’s team” to avoid any controversy.

However, there is no reason for him to shout it in six-inch headlines now. What is known is understood and what is unknown is easily seen. He leads by example and he leads with his voice.

Just ask receiver Allen Hurns, who joined the Cowboys in March.

“Dak is the guy that’s surprised me when I first got here,” Hurns said. “Just being year 3, you don’t see that leadership from those guys. Yeah, he's a quarterback. He had to grow up early but he’s a very vocal leader. And he’s one that leads by example as well. In the weight room, on the field, during conditioning, he’s wanting to be first. That surprised me a lot. With Witten gone, yeah, he’s a bigger leader for us. He’s going to be truly missed but I think Dak got it all under control, being the head man in charge.”

Receiver Tavon Austin, who was acquired in a draft day trade with the Los Angeles Rams, has also been impressed.”

"I’ve seen it from afar, always knew he had a little juice, a little swag to him," Austin said. "When you meet him, he definitely lives up to that.”

Clarence E. Hill Jr.: @clarencehilljr
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