After three weeks of training camp, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is ready to go home.
The Cowboys break camp in Oxnard, Calif., Friday, just ahead of Saturday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium.
Prescott, in his third year as Cowboys quarterback, has taken on a bigger role as the face of the team following the retirement of Jason Witten and release of receiver Dez Bryant.
It has also brought about more scrutiny, as seen by the controversy surrounding Prescott’s unintended remarks about the social justice protests during the national anthem.
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But he has embraced his new leadership role and has become comfortable in his skin as quarterback of America’s Team, which requires a certain toughness and thickness.
“I’m so much more comfortable,” Prescott said. “What’s different, I guess, is I have to step up and be more of a leader with the guys that we had leave, a big step there, being more vocal, talking to guys a lot about football, on and off the field, just making sure we’re all getting on the same page there mentally. Physically, the game is coming to me more and more, getting more comfortable in everything we’re doing within the system, knowing the defense like the back of my hand, it’s all going to help going forward.”
Here are seven burning thoughts from Prescott on the team’s three weeks in training camp:
1. What is the biggest thing you have accomplished?
“We’ve created a true brotherhood around here,” Prescott said. “You can see this atmosphere, you see team meetings at night, just being around each other at practice, we all love to hang around each other, we all like to see each other do well and succeed in individual drills and team drills, it’s the competition heated up, each side getting at each side every day, it’s fun. We’ve got this great comradery that we’ve got going on on every side of the ball and it’s fun.
2. Can you access where you are with the new receivers?
“We really click,” Prescott said. ”We’re starting to get it. As I said, when we have the changeover that we had and had a lot of new guys come in at receiver and play different positions, especially with a bunch of different guys, each of which has something different to offer to our receiving corps, it’s all been good. We’re starting to click, starting to hit the deep ball a lot more in some of these last practices than we did early on. But we knew that would be part of it, working out the kinks and we’re all getting comfortable with each other. It’s fun to do it.”
3. Who has stuck out most in the receiving corps, among the new additions of Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Michael Gallup?
“I’d say Tavon for the simple fact, in the other place he was, I didn’t know he was as good of a receiver as he was and could run routes as well as he does, and catch the ball every single time,” Prescott said. “For me, from that standpoint, he’s not just a gadget, gadget guy. You don’t have to run him on speed sweeps and all that steps opens up the offense and you can use him there as well. He’s a guy you can put out there, inside, outside and trust he’s going to get open.”
4. How much after you worked on the deep ball with the new receivers?
“A good bit with these guys,” Prescott said. “We’ve got some guys that can really stretch the field. We knew that coming into the offseason and then going into training camp that was part of our game we needed to strengthen and we needed to get better. And with having some guys that can stretch the field it’s important that we all get on the same key there.”
“You definitely have got to hit a certain percentage. Sometimes you’ve got to throw it and make the defense back up. As you said it’s not a live or die thing but we’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities when they give it to us because if not they’re just going to sit on underneath routes. So we’ve got to let them know we can beat them over the top and let them know otherwise.”
5. How different is running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is admittedly more focused and in better shape this year?
“He’s had a phenomenal camp, honestly a great camp,” Prescott said. “Doing everything on the field, catching, running. Just as you said, being in great shape, being in top-top shape. Leading us in sprints as we end practice. He’s had a great camp, everything we could ask for, so he’s got a lot of improvement. Zeke is a helluva player. He is only going to get better, just the way he comes out here and works. The way he focuses in meetings. The approach he has taken in training camp. He is going to have a great year and he is only going to get better.
6. What kind of impact do you expect from Elliot in the passing game?
“He’s a guy you know he’s going to win in space, so anytime you can get him in space, you can get him the ball quick,” Prescott said. “For me it’s important going through my reads, if you can get to the check down a little bit quicker. He can get more yards and make people miss. He can definitely help out a lot more in the passing game.”
7. Did you work on not doing too much this year, which you admitted cause you problems in 2017?
“It starts a lot out here,” Prescott said. “I think I went to the training camp last year, saying I’m testing my risk versus reward and I know I told ya’ll a lot about that last year. And I think I went into the game still trying to do that too much. It’s about coming out here playing every practice, every drill, like it’s the game, taking what the defense gives me and being consistent in everything that I do.”