Cowboys’ Prescott eager to get back in front of home fans at AT&T: ‘The greatest place to play’

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351 days. Two weeks shy of a whole calendar year.

That’s how long it’s been since Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was carted off the field at AT&T Stadium, his leg in an air cast, his season over, his fans devastated, his future in doubt.

So tonight’s homecoming, his first game back in the team’s magnificent stadium, is going to be special, no matter what. The fact that it’s on primetime television, with the victor taking an early lead in the NFC East, just adds to the magnitude of the moment.

“It’s huge,” Prescott said of the home opener against Philadelphia. “Excited just to get back to AT&T. Obviously, the greatest place to play and to do it with a full stadium. Cowboys fans going crazy, I’m sure. Monday night football, division opponent. No better way, really, for this team to start the season off at home. I’m excited for it. We’ve got to start off and get this first division win. This is a great atmosphere to be able to do it in. And I’m excited for the challenge.”

Prescott has personally risen to every challenge that’s been put in front of him, both on the field and off, since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick in 2016. But this year has been especially transformative by any standard.

The 28-year-old passer battled through the grueling physical rehab of his ankle, signing a record-breaking contract along the way. Then he fought through a training camp that saw his long-awaited comeback slowed further by a shoulder strain. When he finally hit the field again in Week 1, he was- inexplicably- better than before. He showed no rust whatsoever, slinging it 58 times for over four hundred yards in his first game back. He was nearly perfect in Week 2; only four passes hit the ground all day in the team’s first win.

And now he’ll bring the show back to the Metroplex for the locals who have been waiting so long so see him. Prescott knows he’ll no doubt take a moment- along with a capacity crowd- to reflect on the journey he’s taken to get there. And despite sports cliches that make it something rarely said out loud, Prescott admits this won’t be just another game.

“I think it will be more special,” Prescott said, “just because of the amount of Cowboys fans that will be there versus the away games. Obviously the first two, they traveled great and [I] felt the energy and felt that, but just knowing the support they’ve given me going on a year was important, was something that I felt. Knowing that when I run out there, whether it’s pregame, whether it’s in a moment within the game, to be able to see up there and to know that with COVID and knowing what we all went through last year, to have them all back, it’ll be exciting. I’ll take that moment, I’ll be thankful for it but then flip then mind right back again to the Eagles defense and what I have to do to win the game.”

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy agrees the Week 3 game is especially consequential. Not only to Prescott, but to the entire organization.

“This is a game we’re all looking forward to,” the coach said last week. “I know [Prescott]’s looking forward to it. But really, to get that second win, get that home win, get that first division win, that’s really the tightness of how we’re looking at this. These division games are so important all the way through. Who’s the biggest rival, I get it, I’ve been there, done that. But this is a very important game because of what the division brings to you. The numbers speak for themselves, the success you have in the division obviously directly relates to your playoff opportunity.”

Reaching- and progressing deep in- the postseason would be the icing on the cake for Prescott’s 2021. Running onto the field at AT&T Stadium once again will be an important ingredient in that recipe, but it pales in comparison to running off of that field once again- not just under his own power, but victorious.

Prescott will have ample opportunity to get settled back in at home now that he’s here. The club has a three-game home stand that ends with the Giants- the team he injured himself against- on the day before the one-year anniversary of that tear-filled cart ride into the Arlington tunnel.

But once he gets tonight’s return behind him by simply playing in front of a home crowd once again, expect Prescott to have long turned the page by then. The next three contests aren’t about chapters of his own personal comeback story, they’re about the team establishing dominance in the conference.

“We talk about it: defending our home turf and defending AT&T,” Prescott told reporters. “It starts right now as we’re going on a stretch. But we can’t focus about having three in a row unless we get the first one. As I said, it’s a great way to open up the season at home with the Eagles and on Monday Night Football. I know this win would be huge in us capturing momentum that’ll continue throughout the year, but definitely throughout this home stretch.”

One day at a time, not looking past the one right in front. Just like Prescott has handled each day of the last 351.

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