A Cowboys team that had braced itself for life without Dak Prescott until the second half of the season is now operating on the premise he’ll be able to return in mid-October.
This accelerated timeframe is based on the type of fracture he suffered, not the over-the-top optimism for which Jerry Jones is famous.
Surgery revealed that Prescott suffered an extra-articular fracture to his right thumb in the team’s season-opening loss to Tampa Bay, a person with knowledge of the procedure said. This is a fracture that occurs above the wrist joint and doesn’t extend into the joint itself.
This injury typically carries a four-to-six-week timeframe for recovery. That’s why Jones declared on KRLD-FM (105.3) The Fan that the club won’t place Prescott on injured reserve, a move that would force the quarterback to miss at least four games before returning.
Is the Cowboys owner a chronic optimist?
Are the timetables he offers publicly on how quickly a player can return from injury colored by hope more than reality?
Usually. Countless examples exist through the years.
But that’s not the case here. There’s a valid medical reason why Prescott won’t miss the six to eight weeks that was widely reported in the aftermath of the injury.
Club officials initially feared that Prescott suffered an intra-articular fracture, a more intrusive break that impacts the wrist joint. The return from this injury is six to eight weeks, which is why there was concern he would be out through the bye and not return until the team’s game against Green Bay on Nov. 13.
When that timetable was offered, those who spoke about the injury stressed no definitive timeframe would be established until after the operation when the surgeon was able to determine the extent of the damage.
Keeping Prescott on the active roster is confirmation that his fracture is less severe. If he did suffer the joint damage that goes with an intra-articular fracture, he would have been placed on injured reserve Tuesday to free up a roster spot. Not being placed on injured reserve also allows him to take practice reps once he nears a potential return.
Now, you want to talk about Jones and his runaway optimism? The idea that Prescott will return for the Cowboys game against the LA Rams on Oct. 9 — the primary reason to keep a player on the active roster is that you believe he’ll miss less than four games — is an example. While it hits the front end of the timeframe for the injury, it seems overly hopeful when you’re talking about a thumb injury on a quarterback’s throwing hand.
A more likely target would seem to be the Cowboys division showdown in Philadelphia that next week. That would be 34 days after the surgery.
That would give Prescott three more games than he likely would have played if he suffered the more serious fracture.
Prescott’s return is no assurance of victory. You saw what his presence meant in the opener against Tampa Bay. But he obviously gives the Cowboys a better chance to win going forward than Cooper Rush.
Good news? Relatively. But it doesn’t address the Cowboys ability to win in Prescott’s absence.
If Dallas is unable to scrape together a victory or two before Prescott’s return, the early hole could be too deep for the Cowboys to escape even with the bulk of the season remaining.
The Cowboys still find themselves in a perilous position. But Prescott’s return next month will give the team something Jones values above almost everything else.
“I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been,” Prescott told reporters after the loss to the Buccaneers. “It’s unfortunate, but I’ll do what I’ve always done when adversity comes.
“Take it on headfirst.”
Catch David Moore on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) with the Musers at 9:35 am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and The Hardline every Tuesday and Friday at 4:30 pm during Cowboys season.
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