It’s understandable why this would be the case. After all, the team had scored just three points against Tampa Bay with Prescott. How would they be able to move the ball without him on the field?
Well, two weeks later, the team has proven that they can do just that. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Dallas finds itself at 2-1 after three weeks of the NFL season. The Cowboys’ defense has played a large role in that, but so too has backup quarterback Cooper Rush.MORE: Breaking down Cooper Rush’s career timeline, from undrafted to Cowboys’ backup
Little was expected of Rush when he was called on to start in place of Prescott. However, he has delivered two solid outings that have not only kept the Cowboys afloat but have ensured that they are just a game back of the Eagles in the NFC East divisional race.Rush’s performance won’t create a quarterback controversy in Dallas, despite Jerry Jones musing about the possibility. Still, his performance is buying the team a key element in Prescott’s recovery: time.
Rush may already have bought the Cowboys enough of it with his wins, as Prescott appears close to a return. It’s just a matter of whether the team will rush him into action in Week 4.
MORE: How long is Dak Prescott out? Latest updates about Cowboys QB’s recovery from thumb injury
Dak Prescott injury update
Cowboys fans were provided with an update on Prescott’s status during ESPN’s coverage of “Monday Night Football.”
Sideline reporter Lisa Salters reported that she had spoken to Prescott about his thumb ahead of the Giants-Cowboys contest. The quarterback said his thumb “feels great” and implied that he may be able to return to action soon.
“He was gonna go talk to the doctor right afterward,” Salters reported on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast. “He’ll hopefully get the green light to start gripping and throwing the football again. When I asked him when he’s thinking he might be back, he said ‘a couple of weeks and I’m counting this as one of them.’ “
Dak Prescott told @saltersl he is not ruling out a return next week 👀 pic.twitter.com/466Rz4kYkP
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 27, 2022
Does that mean that Prescott could be ready to go as soon as Week 4 against the Commanders?
“He said, ‘He isn’t ruling anything out,’” Salters said.
Prescott wasn’t placed on IR as a result of his thumb injury, but he was expected to be sidelined for multiple weeks because of it. So, Week 4 would mark the early end of his timetable for return.
While Prescott would like to play in Week 4, NFL Network’s Jane Slater reports that he and the team “be smart” as he looks to come back.
#Cowboys QB Dak Prescott showed me his thumb post stitch removal. No swelling. Healing. Tells me Cowboys/Rams week 5 is a game that he could possibly start. Get the sense he would go Sunday vs. Washington if he could but this will be a team/Dak decision to be smart
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) September 27, 2022
And that approach will certainly be aided by the performance of Rush to date.
MORE: Mike McCarthy downplays notion of a QB controversy in Dallas
How Cooper Rush winning helps Dak Prescott’s injury recovery
Rush’s 2-0 performance as a starter this year could prove critical in buying Prescott that extra week of recovery. He has capably quarterbacked the Cowboys in his two 2022 starts, and Dallas may be more willing to trust him in Week 4 against Washington as a result.
Why? Because the Commanders profile as a weaker opponent.
Washington is the only NFL team that sports a bottom-five mark in DVOA — a Football Outsiders metric that measures a team’s efficiency based on situation and opponent — on both offense and defense.
So, if the Cowboys have any shred of doubt about Prescott’s health, they could opt to start Rush. That wouldn’t necessarily be punting on a chance to compete, as many presumed it was when Prescott first went down.
Clearly, Prescott is the starter when healthy. But if Rush can give him an extra week to heal while still giving Dallas a chance to win, the Cowboys will gladly defer to the backup for one more contest.