NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott is officially BACK. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback said Thursday that he will start this Sunday against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium after being a full participant in practice for the first time since fracturing his thumb in a season-opening loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

"I did everything. I wasn't limited by any means," Prescott said Thursday after practice. "There wasn't a pitch count. I think I threw about 140 balls, something like that. I just made that up, but there was no pitch count. I was full go."

Prescott threw roughly 50 passes to running backs and wide receivers before Sunday's game in Philadelphia. The session lasted about 20 minutes and included a multitude of routes with Prescott taking snaps from shotgun and under center.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy noted before practice Thursday that Prescott had "looked very good" and that the plan was to "put him in the lead chair as far as reps to give him the opportunity to prepare to play." His teammates gave proverbial "thumbs up" endorsements on how Prescott has looked coming back this week. 

"Like Dak," wide receiver CeeDee Lamb  said Thursday when asked about his quarterback's play this week. "He's back."

Prescott being back changes everything for the Cowboys, as no NFL team's offense has scored more points with one quarterback than the Cowboys' 30.7 with No. 4 taking snaps since 2020, when McCarthy became their head coach.

Most team PPG by starting QB since 2020 (min. 20 games)

Team PPG

Dak Prescott


Josh Allen


Patrick Mahomes


Tom Brady


Aaron Rodgers


Prescott's playmakers have the full belief that even in his first game back, their offense will receive a boost, on the ground as well as through the air.  

"I think running the football makes things go a little bit easier, even when it may not be that effective, you're still wearing on that defense," Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said Thursday. "You're still creating body blows, and then you're impacting the game and making play-action work. I think it's important for us to continue to attack defenses on the ground. Why not? You've got two great backs and a good O-line, so why don't you make it easy for Dak?"

Cowboys offense by starting QB under Mike McCarthy (since 2020)

Dak PrescottAll Others







Red Zone Touchdown Percentage



*Most by starting QB in span (min. 20 games)

However, Prescott isn't throwing all caution to the wind just because by Sunday he will have hit the projected six-week timetable to return from the fractured thumb. He said he taped his thumb in practice and will continue checking in with his doctors to decide if he will go without it come Sunday.  

"I'm not going to just act like I didn't have a broken bone a few weeks ago," Prescott said. "I am still going to do some things, but for the most part I'm healthy. It feels good. I grabbed the ball. The ball is comfortable in my hand. My grip is great. Honestly, putting it behind me and just focusing on this game plan."

Fortunately for Prescott, his head coach is well-versed on how to get his star quarterback reacclimated to playing again after a multi-week injury. McCarthy coached Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he returned from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss seven games in 2013, as well as in 2017 when Rodgers came back to play after missing nine games, also with the same collarbone injury. 

"Rhythm and timing, that's the biggest thing, and it's a challenge to grab that initially in a short period of time, there's no question," McCarthy said Thursday when asked what the key is when a quarterback returns from an extended absence. "I think that's why putting a ceiling on the workload is important because Lord knows we would've thrown 140 yesterday if you let him. We have to be smart about that and trust the medical process that he's going through."

Elliott isn't a quarterback whisperer, but he thought his quarterback has what it takes to play again after seeing him practice. 

"Today, he looked really good," Elliott said Thursday. "Today, the rhythm looked really good. It didn't look like he missed a beat."

Beyond the X's and O's, McCarthy and teammates lauded the intangible impact Prescott's return will bring back to the Silver and Blue.

"No. 1, his leadership ability and personality is top-notch, off the charts," McCarthy said. "That energy definitely has been felt without a doubt. Anybody that knows Dak or has been a teammate of his understands the energy that he brings each and every day."

"He's our heartbeat in terms of leadership and doing things the right way," Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons added Thursday. "Pre-injury, first guy in here doing rehab, working out. We're excited with this guy every day. Post-injury, still doing the same things just with his habits and routine. I think he does everything when no one's looking. ... I think when he comes out to practice and we're doing special teams, his hoodie is already full of sweat like he already did a full workout before coming to practice. You take those types of things, his leadership, the type of guy you got playing with you, I know he's got my back. It's going to be so much fun seeing him back out there. I know real competitors are itching to get back out on the field, and I think that's why his rehab was so intense. I never saw him take a day off. I know he's itching to be out there, and I can't wait to see his work pay off for him."

Prescott said his ability to lead the Cowboys has improved by becoming a spectator during Cooper Rush's 4-1 run as the starter over the last five weeks.

"A lot of things I wouldn't necessarily share, but I know it's going to help me and help this team moving forward, helping certain players, just staying ahead of the communication aspect, whether it be with the players, whether it be with the coaches, communicating with the defense as a team, making sure they stay together, understand we're in this together," Prescott said. "Yeah, I learned a lot. As disappointing as it was, it was really, really fun and a great time for me to grow and learn more about this team that honestly I hadn't been able to see from that perspective. Being hurt before [in 2020], I was gone when I hurt my ankle, right? I wasn't necessarily around trying to get that right.

"Being here during this time, not missing anything, seeing the game, seeing the way everything plays out, I think it will be huge moving forward."

Playing the Detroit Lions in his first game back will provide as great of an opportunity as any for Prescott to move forward and shake off the rust his five-week layoff has created. The Lions are the NFL's worst scoring defense this season, allowing 34.0 points per game. 

Lions defense this season

NFL Rank

PPG Allowed



Total YPG Allowed



Yards/Play Allowed



3rd Down Pct Allowed






Detroit's defense has been historically porous, giving up the 10th-most points per game allowed by any team through its first five games dating back to the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. Since entering the NFL in 2016, no quarterback has been more efficiently prolific against the Lions than Prescott among those with three or more starts versus Detroit.  

Dak Prescott career vs. Lions

NFL Rank*




Team PPG



Pass YPG






Passer Rating



*Rank among nine QBs with 3+ starts vs. DET since 2016

Sunday will mark Prescott's fourth career start against the Lions and his first since a 35-27 road win in Week 11 of the 2019 season. More importantly, it'll mark his official return to the field after an extended absence, ready to lead a Cowboys team with Super Bowl aspirations.