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With questions circling, Dak Prescott keeps 'battling'

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Are the Cowboys wasting Dak Prescott? (1:43)

The Cowboys are not building a team around their quarterback Dak Prescott, who is still on a valuable rookie contract. (1:43)

FRISCO, Texas -- A crowd of media was waiting at Dak Prescott's locker on Thursday, like every week, and the Dallas Cowboys quarterback knew what was coming.

When his team loses -- and scores only eight points in doing so -- and Prescott throws for just 170 yards, like the Cowboys did last week at the Carolina Panthers, he has figured out he will be a main topic of conversation, just as he is when the Cowboys win, they score 30-plus points and he throws for 300 yards.

"I've got a great, great, great, great group of friends and family that support me throughout everything," Prescott said. "Not to offend everybody, I really don't listen or hear much. I figured that out in the position that I'm in when you don't play [well]. Not to offend any of you, I haven't read any of your papers or blogs or anything like that."

Dealing with the bad is more difficult than dealing with the good, but Prescott does not lose perspective.

"The things that I've been through in life," he said, alluding to the death of his mother while he was in college. "It's just part of it. You keep battling and you keep your head forward usually. If you do that with the right attitude and the right demeanor, things will work your way. That's what I do."

Bill Parcells liked to say a quarterback is truly judged when his nose is broken, the loss was lopsided and everybody is staring at him crookedly, wondering which way he will respond.

In advance of Sunday night's home matchup against the Giants, New York safety Landon Collins said his team's goal is to focus on running back Ezekiel Elliott.

"If we do that, put the ball in Dak's hands," Collins said, "I think we'll have a better shot at winning."

Prescott accepted the challenge Thursday.

"He is not moping around," Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "You can tell he is determined. He wants to be back on that field as soon as he can. Just what you would expect."

From Elliott to linebacker Sean Lee to wide receiver Allen Hurns, none has seen a difference in Prescott's approach this week due to last weekend's loss.

"He's a true leader," Hurns said. "He's not a guy that lets circumstance change who he is. He's a guy that comes in each and every day and works. He tunes out everything people are out there saying about him. That's the one thing I love about him. Yeah, he's the quarterback, but he's one of the hardest-working guys on the team. When we're running sprints, he's trying to be the guy leading. Or he's holding people accountable, saying, 'OK, you can't mess up on this.' Things like that.

"He's only in his third year, but he doesn't act like it at all."

The 2018 campaign is just one game old, but Prescott is carrying around the scars from the end of last season, as well, even if it is not all his fault.

In his past nine games, Prescott has thrown for more than 212 yards once, has been sacked 28 times and has just six touchdown passes, with nine interceptions. The Cowboys are 4-5 during that span.

Outside the organization, questions have been raised about whether the Cowboys should make a big financial commitment to Prescott after this season. He was so good, so fast, for the Cowboys that it is difficult to remember he is young. Have teams figured him out or has the offense become too predictable to defend?

"I think that's the nature of the league in all aspects of the game. Certainly, everyone is well-studied," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "The best offenses, defenses, are ones that are able to do what they do again and again and again. They evolve and they dress it up and do things different ways. They attack different ways. But there's no question that over time, certainly if you've had success, people are going to study what you do and you have to continue to grow and evolve -- and that applies to everybody in all aspects of your team."

But Prescott has more of a burden than a newly added kicker missing a field goal in his first game, like Brett Maher did last week, just because of the nature of the signal-caller's position.

Prescott admitted the week goes by slow after a loss. His routine -- how he studies and what he studies on a Tuesday through Friday -- remains the same, although getting treatment for an ankle injury has been added to it this week.

"Knowing you just want to get back out there, you have that urge to get back out there," Prescott said. "But you have to study the plan and do the plan the right way before you can just jump to that."

Another test awaits Sunday.

Maybe one of his biggest.