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Dallas Cowboys

Dak spotted in walking boot

Dak Prescott is dealing with what's being called a very minor foot sprain. That's the news from Ian Rapoport, after the quarterback was spotted in a walking boot. It's something he's been dealing with for a few days, and the boot is precautionary.

That's what's being reported, and there's no reason to think it's a big deal. The season is two months away, after all. But since it's the team maintaining it's no big deal, there's nothing wrong with some degree of caution. Of course they're going to downplay it at this point, whether or not such lack of concern is warranted. The more pessimistic among us might say that Dak is a 31-year-old quarterback (later this month) who has had ankle and foot injuries in the past, missing five games two years ago and most of the season four years ago. He also doesn't have a contract after this season.

Most likely, it is no big deal, but since we're here, there's nothing wrong with discussing What if. What if Prescott needs to miss time?

Dallas has two other quarterbacks on its roster, Cooper Rush and Trey Lance. Rush has been the backup the past few seasons, starting those five games when Dak was hurt in 2022. Lance was acquired for a fourth-round pick last August, and since he was selected with a top 3 pick not so long ago, there are doubtless some who believe he can be the team's future starting quarterback. (Especially Dak critics, of which there are plenty.)

Figuring that Prescott probably won't take many snaps in the preseason, there will likely be a battle between Rush and Lance to serve as the No. 2. It's one the team would like Lance to win, so they can think about starting him next year rather than giving Dak a new contract that pays him $50 million per season. If the team doesn't advance in the playoffs with Dak this year, they can do that just as easily with a far cheaper quarterback. Lance, however, is also in a contract year, so they'll need to pay him like a starter if they keep him around, and with far less to go on than they have with Dak. Lance has made four career starts and thrown for 797 yards. He's yet to prove he can move an NFL offense at all.

If it's Dak in the lineup this year, no worries. The offense will still be pretty good. But what if it's Rush or Lance?

I pulled the five games that Rush started in 2022. Seems like CeeDee Lamb (also in need of a new contract) was just fine; elite wideouts usually are. He averaged 6 catches for 76 yards, with 2 TDs. But overall production from the passing game wasn't great, and their No. 2 receivers combined for basically one good game (91 yards and a score by Noah Brown).

Lamb (Cin.)7750
Lamb (Was.)6971
Lamb (at NYG)8871
Lamb (at LAR)5530
Lamb (at Phi.)5680
N.Brown (Cin.)5911
N.Brown (Was.)5540
N.Brown (at NYG)3610
Gallup (at LAR)4440
Gallup (at Phi.)2180

Bottom line: the injury probably isn't serious. If I'm drafting this week, I'm still selecting Lamb as one of the very top wide receivers. Dak himself, maybe I downgrade a little, or accept the discount and draft him.

But the Dallas passing game itself would miss him. Jake Ferguson wouldn't necessarily be hurt by Dak's absence (fewer touchdowns, perhaps, but more short catches from a less capable backup quarterback).

And I think we'll need to watch Lance closely in the preseason. The Cowboys definitely will be, perhaps seeing if they can avoid paying Dak a fortune but still getting by at the quarterback a year down the road.

--Andy Richardson

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