UPDATED on Tuesday, 9/20/22, at 11:42 a.m. Eastern.
UPDATE: Multiple reports now indicate that Prescott is ahead of schedule and could return at some point in early October.
The 2022 campaign is off to an unfathomably abysmal start for the Dallas Cowboys, who will be without their star quarterback Dak Prescott for the next 6-8 weeks after he sustained a fractured thumb on his right throwing hand in last night’s 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay as 2.5-point home underdogs.
“I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been,” Prescott said while wearing a splint on his right hand after the loss to the Buccaneers. The seventh-year veteran out of Mississippi State is expected to have surgery today.
According to an ESPN report from Todd Archer, Prescott will have a pin and plate inserted into the thumb to stabilize the joint.
“It’s very disappointing, but injuries happen, can’t necessarily control it, just unfortunate,” Prescott said. “Obviously going to miss some time, not be there for my team and that’s what hurts more than anything, especially after the start we just put out there. Wanted to be able to respond, and not necessarily having that opportunity for several weeks, yeah it’s unfortunate. But I’ll do what I’ve always done anytime adversity comes, take it on head-first and give my best and I’m sure I’ll come out of this thing better.”
You never want to overreact to one result, especially in a 17-game NFL season. But with Prescott most likely out for the rest of September and October, in addition to the season-ending injury to left tackle Tyron Smith, you can basically put a fork in the Cowboys’ hopes of winning the NFC East in 2022.
Even after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5 of the 2020 campaign, Prescott returned last season and set a Dallas single-season record for TD passes with 37.
He started 69 games in a row for the Cowboys from 2016 to 2020, but he missed 12 combined games in 2020 and 2021. If Prescott isn’t ready in six weeks for a home game vs. Chicago on Oct. 30, his likely return game will be at Green Bay on Nov. 13. Dallas has an open date on Nov. 6.
Prescott completed just 14-of-29 passes for 134 yards with an interception last night. He was replaced by Cooper Rush, a fifth-year QB who has been with Dallas since his rookie season in 2017. Rush completed 7-of-13 throws for 64 yards vs. Tampa Bay.
Rush has thrown a pass in just eight career games. However, when he made his only career start last season, the Central Michigan product completed 24-of-40 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a 20-16 win at Minnesota.
Rush came up big at crunch time, guiding his team on an eight-play drive that covered 75 yards in only two minutes. He found Amari Cooper for a five-yard TD pass with 51 seconds remaining to lift the Cowboys past the Vikings. Rush had a 73-yard TD pass to Cedrick Wilson in the first minute of the third quarter.
Rush has completed 38-of-63 career throws (60.3%) for 488 yards with a 3/1 TD-INT ratio. He’ll make his second start Sunday at home vs. the Bengals, who will be looking to bounce back from a 23-20 home loss to the Steelers in overtime.
As of Monday afternoon, Cincinnati was listed as a 6.5-point road favorite at most books. The total was 43.5 points.
Will Grier now becomes the backup QB. The 27-year-old Grier was taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by Carolina with the 100th overall pick. He has appeared in only two career games, starting twice for the Panthers as a rookie in 2019.
The results weren’t good for Grier, who completed 28-of-52 passes (53.8%) for 228 yards with zero TDs and four interceptions. He hasn’t touched the field in a regular-season game since then.
His first start was a 38-6 loss at Indianapolis. Grier connected on 27-of-44 throws for 224 yards, but he was intercepted three times. In a 42-10 home loss to New Orleans in Carolina’s regular-season finale, Grier was pulled after throwing just one completion in eight attempts for four yards with one interception.
Without Prescott, Dallas will undoubtedly be an underdog in road games at the New York Giants, at the L.A. Rams and at Philadelphia. Depending on how the Cowboys play with Rush under center against Cincinnati on Sunday and against the G-Men on Monday Night Football in Week 3, they may or may not be favorites or underdogs in home games vs. Washington (Oct. 2) and vs. Detroit (Oct. 23).