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Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott leaves practice early with strained right shoulder

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OXNARD, Calif.—Dak Prescott’s surgically repaired ankle has not limited him through five training camp practices.

But Prescott exited the Cowboys’ first padded session on Wednesday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. An MRI examination in Oxnard showed Prescott has a muscle strain in his right shoulder, the Cowboys confirmed later Wednesday afternoon.

“I felt some soreness when making certain throws today, and I really just decided not to push things too far,” Prescott said in a statement. “Better to be cautious and smart about it. I don’t see this as any kind of serious setback.

“We’ll treat it on a daily basis, and I’ll be fine.”

Prescott participated early in practice. He joined quarterbacks in drills focusing on footwork and accuracy, the four passers competing to see which could most accurately hit each of three netted targets.

But as 1-on-1 drills commenced, Prescott huddled to the side of drills with head athletic trainer Jim Maurer. The two conversed for several minutes, Maurer evaluating Prescott near his upper body.

Cowboys backup quarterbacks Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci cycled through snaps as the evaluation continued.

A horn then blared. Gilbert took first-team snaps in seven-on-seven work and scrambling drills. Prescott huddled with director of rehabilitation Britt Brown. He kept his helmet on, a football in his right hand. Prescott mimicked a throwing motion as if he were checking how tight his shoulder was as he tested his torque.

Prescott cheered for teammates and exchanged words with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. But he didn’t join 11-on-11 drills either. He alerted offensive teammates he had “decided not to push it,” Gilbert said.

Shortly after noon, Prescott jogged off.

Prescott initially underwent evaluation by a team doctor, a team spokesman telling reporters during practice that Prescott felt the soreness while warming up and was “not concerned at all” but wanted to undergo a “purely precautionary” examination.

“He told me and (tight end) Blake (Jarwin) at some point, ‘Hey I’m going to go do my treatment and make sure this is all right,’” tight end Dalton Schultz said. “Next man up. I’m glad he was able to step out and do what he needed to do.

“Second week of training camp, you don’t need to be out here throwing on a sore arm.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott during training camp on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott during training camp on Sunday.

Prescott had returned to practice during OTAs in May after more than six months recovering from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. Prescott underwent immediate surgery to repair the fracture and clean the wound after he was carted off the field from the Cowboys-Giants match Oct. 11.

In December, Prescott underwent a second surgery to further stabilize and strengthen the ankle. He progressed from crutch to boot to walking. In spring, he was comfortably cutting, running and jumping. He began throwing again while using his weight and footwork. All he missed in spring practices were 11-on-11 drills with a live rush.

At training camp, he integrated fully into those drills too.

“It’s exciting just being back with the guys,” Prescott said last Friday. “(My ankle) is the last thing I’m thinking about. But obviously, I’m going to see where I am at as I continue to go on. Make sure that I can set the right plan to take care of it.”

Prescott started 73 consecutive Cowboys games, including playoffs, before missing the bulk of the 2020 season. In five games of action last season, he completed 68% of passes for nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Prescott also rushed for three scores and caught a receiving touchdown one quarter before sustaining his injury.

Veteran backup Andy Dalton replaced Prescott, though Dalton missed two games due to a concussion and COVID-19. DiNucci and Gilbert each started a game then. The Cowboys went 42 days before winning after Prescott’s injury.

Gilbert is expected to be the frontrunner for the No. 2 slot, the Cowboys choosing not to add to the quarterback position through free agency or the draft this offseason. Gilbert completed 21 of 38 passes for 243 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his lone start. He also rushed three times for 28 yards in a 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who arrived at AT&T Stadium 8-0.

Gilbert said Wednesday that entering his second year in Moore’s system, he’s developed greater schematic comfort. In offseason work, Gilbert focused on quickening his feet, building strength and further familiarizing himself with Cowboys protections, checks and audibles.

“I want to win the backup job, that’s my goal,” Gilbert said. “Part of being a backup quarterback, you’ve got to always be ready to step in at any point. That’s all it was today: an opportunity to step in there and get some reps with the ones.

“The game moves a little bit faster with those guys, especially on the defensive side of the ball. So you’ve got to be sharp mentally. For me, it’s a fun opportunity.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cowboys' Dak Prescott explains why he left practice early

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