Dallas Cowboys

Hennings praises Prescott but issues reality check for Cowboys’ fans

A three-time Super Bowl winner during his days with the Dallas Cowboys offered praise Wednesday for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, the early sensation of the team’s 2016 preseason games.

But former defensive tackle Chad Hennings also offered a word of caution for Cowboys’ fans expecting Prescott to be more than a seldom-used backup to Tony Romo this season despite two stellar performances in August contests. Prescott, a fourth-round pick from Mississippi State has completed 22-of-27 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions, in preseason matchups against the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins. He’s also rushed for two touchdowns.

Heading into Thursday’s preseason game at Seattle, Prescott has a quarterback rating of 156.4. Based on the formula used by the NFL, a perfect mark would be 158.3.

Hennings, who spoke at a Wednesday news conference at the Fort Worth Club hosted by the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, praised Prescott’s poise and productivity he has displayed thus far, saying it “speaks volumes” about his upside as an NFL prospect. But in terms of being an immediate contributor when the regular season begins next month, he offered a reality check.

“Preseason is preseason. There were years back in the day when we didn’t win a preseason game but you go on to win a Super Bowl,” said Hennings, who played for the Cowboys from 1992-2000. “In regard to specifically Dak Prescott, … opposing defenses haven’t game planned (against) him. But to show the poise that he has and have the productivity that he has had at this early of a career stage speaks volumes for him and to how hard he has worked.”

Asked about his level of optimism for his former team if Prescott is forced into extended duty this season, Hennings said: “Hopefully, he doesn’t have to play. Hopefully, Tony can stay healthy. Again, it’s (about) confidence. For Dak, for his development, you’d like for him to carry the clipboard on the sidelines for a couple of years as Tony did for several years to kind of acclimate and get used to the game. Because there is a pretty steep learning curve. If he has to play, I don’t know if they’d put him in right away to potentially jeopardize his confidence. But you never know. Hopefully, they won’t have to get to that stage.”

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch