Is Dak really back?
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott made his return to the field Thursday night, starting his 2021 NFL season with a matchup against the Buccaneers in Tampa. While his first-half stat line looked just fine (23-of-32 passing, 224 yards, two touchdowns), viewers noted that something was very off with his throws.
Several looked uncharacteristically wayward from the otherwise accurate and strong-armed Prescott, especially early in the game. There were questionable throws to CeeDee Lamb — one of which resulted in a drop — and deep misfires that had viewers nervous.
He also appeared to lack velocity on several throws.
On Prescott's 22-yard touchdown pass to Lamb in the first quarter, the Dallas wideout had to slow up to catch the ball, which was ever so slightly underthrown:
There might be a reason for that: Prescott is dealing with a right lat injury that sidelined him during training camp. He is scheduled to receive MRIs once every two weeks to see if the lat and his throwing shoulder are holding up OK as the season progresses.
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The NBC broadcast also noted that Prescott has a new pregame warmup routine that is focused on flexibility and loosening the arm, similar to what an MLB pitcher would do.
Prescott's first-half performance kept the Cowboys in striking distance — they trailed 21-16 at intermission — but analysts, fans and viewers stated that something going on with his arm:
well dak isn’t healthy— charles (crying online) mcdonald (@FourVerts) September 10, 2021
Dak looks like late-career Peyton Manning. Noodle arm, but complete command of the offense.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) September 10, 2021
Dak just tried to put a lot of gas on that third down throw and it just didn’t have the velocity coming out of his hand. I stand by this statement.— Bruce Nolan (@BruceExclusive) September 10, 2021
Dak’s playing a perfectly reasonable game and his arm still doesn’t look right. https://t.co/AVjBLWgJ5n
You can tell Dak Prescott's arm isn't 100%, but the dude is still absolutely balling out. #DALvsTB— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 10, 2021
Correct— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) September 10, 2021
Dak's arm doesn't look quite the same, but everything else is as excellent as ever. Getting to the right guy every time and playing with such command in the pocket. Dude brings such a high floor to an offense.— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) September 10, 2021
I think Dak’s arm is still hurt.— Matt Nelson (@MJNDesigner) September 10, 2021
No velocity all.
Cris Collinsworth keeps talking about how good Dak Prescott looks, and overall I’d agree, but he’s underthrown at least 3 balls badly tonight.— Tyler Steege (@HandsTeamTy) September 10, 2021
Whether it’s the ankle, arm, or both - the zip on his passes doesn’t seem fully there
The arm isn’t *quite* the same yet but other than that, Dak still looks like Dak.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) September 10, 2021
The boys have life.
Prescott then threw an interception midway through the third quarter on an intermediate throw over the middle that was wide of Lamb, who ended up tipping the ball. The Bucs converted the turnover into a touchdown and a 28-19 lead.
Is it rust? Is it recovery from injury? Who knows?
But hopefully for the Cowboys, they aren't bucked by this turn of events.