<
>

Dak Prescott to take on more with Ezekiel Elliott out

play
Cowboys 'equipped' to handle Zeke suspension (0:39)

Darren Woodson joins SC6 to assess if the Cowboys running game will change if Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. (0:39)

FRISCO, Texas -- If it hadn't happened already, Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys are yours.

With Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension starting immediately, pending more legal action by the running back's attorneys, and out until Nov. 30 when the Cowboys take on the Washington Redskins, there will be even more pressure on Prescott to perform at a high level.

He is on pace to throw for 3,814 yards and 35 touchdown passes, which would top what he did as a rookie. He has matched last year's interception total with four in the first five games, but two of the turnovers came on drops by his wide receivers.

Prescott's play has been much better than the Cowboys' 2-3 record.

At a promotional event for Campbell's Chunky Soup on Wednesday night, Prescott said he doesn't think he's doing more this year than his rookie year.

"No, I mean I'm just playing the game," Prescott said. "I get out there and it's just about what I've done through the week within the reps of our offense and just executing the plays that coach [Scott] Linehan calls for me."

That's a nice thing to say. Prescott won't brag.

The Cowboys' win against the Arizona Cardinals was all because of Prescott. He sacrificed himself on a touchdown run in which he was flipped in the air. He made plays out of the pocket when things broke down. He completed 72 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns.

In the 35-30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, he threw three touchdown passes and was intercepted once. He missed some throws and was a big part of the cold start to the second half slide that led to the Rams' comeback. He did put the Cowboys in position to tie the game and had a two-point conversion called back because of a dubious holding penalty.

In the 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, he delivered late in the game, almost answering Aaron Rodgers drive for drive. He put together a 17-play drive that ended with him scoring on an 11-yard run with 1 minute, 13 seconds to play. His heroics were forgotten because of what Rodgers did to the Cowboys' defense in the final 73 seconds.

If Elliott's suspension takes hold, he will miss games against two division rivals (Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles), the defending NFC champion (the 3-1 Atlanta Falcons), the only undefeated team in the NFL (Kansas City Chiefs) and the winless San Francisco 49ers and the one-win Los Angeles Chargers.

Four of the six opponents (San Francisco, Kansas City, Atlanta and Philadelphia) have pass defenses ranked in the bottom half of the league. That's the good news for Prescott. The better news would be to have Elliott in the backfield next to him.

Prescott had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history by a quarterback with 13 wins, 24 touchdowns, four interceptions and a team record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (six). He did all of this for a team that had been as reliant on Tony Romo as any team had been reliant on a single player.

As Romo went, the thought was, the Cowboys went.

But then Prescott and Elliott changed that notion a year ago. Prescott was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Elliott was the heartbeat of the offense.

The Cowboys went into this season believing they could put more on Prescott after he excelled as a rookie. They never thought he would face the dreaded “sophomore slump” because of the work he put in during the spring and summer.

Now, however, they have to put more on Prescott by demand if not by choice in Elliott's absence.

And it comes at a time where Elliott seemed to find his stride. In Sunday's loss to Green Bay, Elliott had 85 yards on 13 carries in the fourth quarter. He looked like the runner of a season ago. Now he might not be around until the end of November.

If the Cowboys are still in contention by that point, it will be due to Prescott.

After Thursday's short practice, a number of players scattered across the country to enjoy the bye week. Prescott did not plan to leave town. His only plan was to go fishing at some point.

He better enjoy the time off because he will be asked to do more, if that's even possible.