In October of 2020, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sustained one of the most gruesome ankle injuries this sport has seen. Since then, recovering from two reconstructive surgeries and getting back to normal has been a long road for the QB. He spent most of the 2021 offseason rehabbing his ankle and was sidelined further after a shoulder injury kept him out of training camp and a calf injury took him out for a game during the regular season.
But, now, for the first time since that October game against the New York Giants, Prescott is finally believed to be fully healthy. Even though Prescott played almost all of the games in 2021, it was clear that there was some hesitation about letting him go full throttle. When talking to the media ahead of Tuesday’s mandatory camp practice, head coach Mike McCarthy even admitted that the staff limited his QB run and mobility plays last season:
“I think it’s obvious we didn’t call as many quarterback runs than probably prior. I think we tried to be smart when we used them. I think that’s only natural,” McCarthy said.
The numbers say it all. In his first five seasons as a pro, the Cowboys quarterback averaged 5.1 yards per attempt and had 24 touchdowns. In 2021, he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry, marking his lowest output as a rusher during a full season in his career. Here’s a further breakdown of the limits the staff put on Prescott last season from NFL.com:
"“In 2021, excluding kneel-downs, Prescott rushed the ball 35 times for 157 yards and a TD, per Next Gen Stats. Of those, 17 were designed rushes that went for 53 yards — including the season-ending 17-yarder. In 2019 he had 19 designed carries for 122 yards and a score. Those figures were 32 totes for 128 yards and six scores in 2018.”"
Heading into 2022 fully healthy for the first time in three years, Prescott and his coaches are ready to let him get back to the mobile QB that helped him emerge as the Cowboys leader six seasons ago. McCarthy feels confident that the 28-year-old will be more active in the offense given what he’s been seeing in offseason programming.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Dak Prescott will have a lot more QB runs in 2022 now that he’s fully healthy
This is a huge win for a Cowboys offense that has a lot of concerns heading into 2022. With Michael Gallup out for at least one game and two of the top receiving weapons on other teams, a lot of pressure will be put on the run game and new receivers. If Prescott is able to use his legs more frequently, it will add more versatility for the offensive unit and another element of surprise for opposing defenses.
Starting this offseason without having to rehab any injuries and getting reps in with his receivers has been a big victory for Prescott and a simple luxury he hasn’t had for quite some time. Beyond the extra reps, McCarthy pointed out that his quarterback has slimmed down and looks more flexible and agile than he has in previous offseasons:
"“The thing that jumps out to me is his movement ability in the scramble drills and scramble situations. The way he activates the scramble drills. He’s got more reps at it. It’s more natural to him. He looks really good. He’s leaner, more flexible. Just being able to get after the mechanics. There’s no limits on the movement drills. In the quarterback drills last year, there was a gradual phase of different type of drills, how we did them. There was no progression to that this year. He’s been full go since day one.”"
As for Prescott, he told reporters on Tuesday that his “confidence is through the roof.” He said he’s been working at bettering his diet, workout routines, focus, and routes now that he has time to do so. The quarterback is looking forward to his increased role in 2022, as well.
“I expect to have about 20 carries a game,” Prescott joked with the press.