Dak Prescott's return to football highlights first Cowboys 'Hard Knocks' episode

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Tuesday night’s “Hard Knocks” episode featuring the Dallas Cowboys – the first of HBO's new season – opens with a shot of a gnarly scar on Dak Prescott’s ankle.

The Cowboys quarterback reveals in the opening clip that he’s had two surgeries to fix the compound fracture he sustained last October in a game against the New York Giants.

Prescott admits he has a lot of scars. One is on his face. Others are emotional. Before his season-ending injury, he lost his brother, Jace Prescott, to suicide.

At Cowboys Camp in Oxnard, California, he makes it clear this year will be different: A season of “triumph.”

Despite this optimism, the episode is largely characterized by Prescott’s frustration as he returns to football after his injury.

Coaches take him out of one practice after they feel he has reached his threshold for the day. The magic number for Prescott’s activity limit is a 575 GPS measurement. Talking with teammates on the sideline, Prescott says, “I sat last year enough.” On another day, he strains his shoulder while throwing, so the coaches sideline him again.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott’s best friend, lightens up his mood some days later with a thoughtful birthday gift: deep blue luggage. It looks expensive.

Elliott wrapped it himself. In one scene, the running back watches a YouTube video about how to best wrap the present before deciding to wing it.

A bright yellow birthday cake to the face also brings a smile to Prescott’s face before the team heads to Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The quarterback doesn’t make the trip, so he can’t use that new luggage just yet.

OXNARD, CA - JULY 24: Linebacker Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys battle runs drills during training camp at River Ridge Complex on July 24, 2021 in Oxnard, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
OXNARD, CA - JULY 24: Linebacker Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys battle runs drills during training camp at River Ridge Complex on July 24, 2021 in Oxnard, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Prescott isn’t the only one with frustrations in the episode. Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons wants more playing time after making some nice plays in the first half of the Hall of Game game. He’s fast and strong. He can hit and he recovers a fumble. But Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn tells him on the phone that he’ll play again in the other preseason games.

“I was just starting to get comfortable,” Parsons tells a teammate on the sideline.

Parsons’ youth shows throughout. Hungry during the middle of one practice, the rookie mentions that snacks were always available for players while he was at Penn State.

At halftime during the preseason game, he checks to see if any oranges are left before the camera pans over to show him indulging in the citrus fruit. Parsons’ mom says in one shot she thinks he’ll win Rookie of the Year.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy also has big aspirations for the season. “This is about winning,” he tells the team in one clip. McCarthy emphasizes it’s a Super Bowl-or-bust kind of year.

He motivates the team with an “Austin Powers” reference about having a “mojo moment” to keep the players’ momentum going in games. A bunch of players seem on board with using the reference.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is just as desperate for a championship 26 years after his last Lombardi Trophy. He tells reporters in one scene that he would do “anything known to man to get in a Super Bowl.” Jones even cries a little.

The franchise owner is still very much involved in the team operations too. In one clip, he’s eating a breakfast sandwich while on the phone with an athletic trainer. They’re discussing Prescott’s health.

Of course, the episode isn’t all serious. The narrator says everyone is having a good time in Oxnard chilling out and riding bikes, but players still dread getting cut.

It’s the perfect set up ( and play on words) for the next scene which features special teams coordinator John “Bones” Fassel talking about getting a vasectomy in front of a bunch of laughing players. It’s reminiscent of the scene from the “Dinner Party” episode of “The Office.”

The friendship between Elliott and Prescott also highlights the episode. Parsons’ energy makes him a charming character. And wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is a great hype man. He tells Parsons in one clip that he’s due for some new cleats because of his big-time plays in the preseason game. The rookie linebacker responds and says he'll call up Nike.

Prescott, though, was the main draw of the first episode of “Hard Knocks.” He seems all ready to go for the new season as long as his body will allow it.

More from Yahoo Sports: