The Dallas Cowboys open their preseason slate against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. Perhaps the biggest talking point leading up to the game is how much Dak Prescott and the team's other high-profile players and starters will see the field, if at all.
For Prescott, he hasn't played in preseason in three years.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the entire preseason. The following year, Prescott was finishing up his recovery from ankle surgery, and in 2022 he was rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder in preparation of the regular season.
Prescott has a clean bill of health this time around and it appears Mike McCarthy intends to keep it that way until the regular season. The head coach told reporters this week that he's leaning towards not playing Prescott in the preseason.
The final decision was just made: Prescott won't suit up Saturday.
Will Cowboys QB Dak Prescott play in Week 1 of preseason?
While Prescott could use the reps (so could everyone), keeping QB1 upright is most important. It's simply not worth the risk when you weigh the variables. Let's keep in mind that Tyron Smith missed practice earlier this week with back tightness and Tyler Biadasz left Tuesday's practice after rolling his ankle.
Both players are fine, but there's no telling what the first-team offensive line will look like come Saturday. For a large portion of Tuesday's practice, the unit looked like Terence Steele, Josh Ball, Brock Hoffman (!), Matt Farniok and Chuma Edoga.
How many preseason reps can we expect from Tyron Smith?
Remember in 2016 when Tony Romo suffered a back fracture against the Seahawks? Luckily, Prescott was ready to step in and the rest is history, but playing in preseason cost the Cowboys their starting quarterback and Romo's career was never the same afterwards.
Again, it worked out for the Cowboys, but who could have predicted Prescott compiling a 13-3 record as a rookie fourth-round pick? Cooper Rush is an excellent backup and led Dallas to a 4-1 record last season without Dak, but Dan Quinn's defense was the true catalyst during that stretch.
If McCarthy wants to play Prescott for a few series in Week 3 of preseason, then so be it. We'd still prefer him to be in street clothes, but there isn't a world in which it makes sense for the two-time Pro Bowler to suit up Saturday night.