Now that the Dallas Cowboys have won six straight without Dak Prescott, it’s time for another week of will he/won’t he on whether the franchise quarterback plays with a strained right calf.
Dallas (6-1) is on its longest winning streak since Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott were twin rookie stars in 2016, — 11 straight on the way to the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Cowboys are leading the NFC East by three games. In addition to the close consultation with athletic trainer Britt Brown, the playoff race is an interesting component of how soon Prescott returns. Dallas is home Sunday against Denver.
“I was getting prepared to play this game,” Prescott said after Cooper Rush made his first career start and threw the go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of a 20-16 victory at Minnesota on Sunday. “I’m a guy that takes it day by day, moment at moment, and right now, I’m going to celebrate this win with the guys and worry about rehabbing and getting everything back in order tomorrow.”
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Receiver Michael Gallup hasn’t played since straining a calf in the opener, although there’s no indication Prescott will be out that long. Four-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin tried to play through a calf strain last season and ended up costing himself five games.
The Cowboys have to decide when Prescott can play with the lowest risk of a repeat of Martin’s situation.
“Obviously we were optimistic about Dak last week, even more optimistic this week,” executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said on his radio show Monday. “The world got to see first-hand how well he was moving around last night. Feel good about it.”
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb keep showing they can be quite the tag team at receiver. The go-ahead score came on Cooper’s great leaping catch on a fade route in the end zone, after his juggling catch earlier got the drive going.
Both finished with more than 100 yards for the second time this season (122 for Cooper, 112 for Lamb). The other was the Cowboys’ only loss, 31-29 on a last-second field goal to defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the opener.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
While Randy Gregory had the only Dallas sack to push his team-leading total to five, he needs to cut back on unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. He drew two on Minnesota’s drive to a tiebreaking field goal in the fourth quarter. The second happened on his sideline, leading to a brief but stern lecture from coach Mike McCarthy.
Rookie LB Micah Parsons might have had his best game with the Cowboys, leading the team with 11 tackles and getting four of Dallas’ six tackles for loss. Parsons helped lead a defensive effort that was key with Dallas trying to take some of the pressure off Rush. The Cowboys held running back Dalvin Cook to a manageable 78 yards and the Vikings to 278 total yards, the fewest Dallas has allowed this season.
CB Trevon Diggs’ season-opening streak of games with at least one interception ended at six, leaving him tied for the NFL record to start a year. But that’s obviously not why his stock was down: The second-year player got beat for several big plays and had two penalties.
LT Tyron Smith didn’t play in the second half because of an ankle injury that had been an issue. Diggs didn’t play late because of an ankle injury, but didn’t appear affected by it after the game and said he was fine.
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7.7% — The Cowboys limited the Vikings to 1 of 13 on third-down conversions. The 7.7% rate is the lowest for Dallas since the same number in 2013 against St. Louis, a 31-7 win.
Denver’s first game without star pass rusher Von Miller, who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, will be at Dallas. The Broncos ended a four-game losing streak with a victory at home against Washington, one of Dallas’ three sub-.500 NFC East rivals.
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