'Hard Knocks' features Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's desire, recovery

OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the focus of the first episode of HBO's 2021 season of "Hard Knocks" after coming off an injury last season and signing a four-year, $160 million contract in March.

From the start of the episode, the camera focused on the scar on Prescott's surgically repaired right ankle. Prescott's 2020 season ended in Week 5 when he suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his ankle during the Cowboys' game against the New York Giants.

"I love scars," Prescott said. "I've got plenty of them."

There is no scar from Prescott's right latissimus strain that has kept him out of practice since July 28, but the behind-the-scenes moments illustrate the Cowboys' concern and focus on getting him ready for the season.

After one throw, Prescott said, "Son of a biscuit," and was soon examined by Cowboys athletic trainer Jim Maurer, who almost immediately diagnosed it as a latissimus strain. Prescott wanted to watch the remainder of practice to support his teammates until coach Mike McCarthy told him to start treatment.

Maurer said Prescott would not throw for "several days," and he doesn't "anticipate it being a long-term thing either."

On Tuesday this week, Prescott threw off to the side (roughly 30 passes) during work with wide receiver Amari Cooper, the most he has thrown since pulling himself out of work when he felt the injury worsen. The Cowboys consulted with the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees in how to deal with Prescott's injury.

"They see it all the time," Maurer said of the baseball teams' advice on Prescott's injury, which is more common in pitchers than quarterbacks.

Before suffering the strain, Prescott was upset at a lack of work in the first few days of training camp in Oxnard, California. McCarthy wanted to limit his repetitions, but Prescott, as seen in the episode, wanted in on the action.

"I'm not coming out this b----," Prescott said. "I sat last year enough."

The premiere episode also featured a slimmer Ezekiel Elliott and 2021 first-round draft pick Micah Parsons. While there was no mention of the COVID-19 vaccine or any of the protocols, there was plenty of football intermixed with some lighter moments, such as:

  • Special teams coordinator Jim Fassel talked about vasectomies.

  • Elliott learning, thanks to an online tutorial, how to wrap a birthday present for Prescott.

  • A what-was-that sneeze from defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.

  • McCarthy's introduction of "Mojo Moments" at practice, complete with Austin Powers references.

  • Offensive tackle Isaac Alarcon repeating "I want to eat the cake," after Prescott had a birthday cake smashed into his face by Elliott and offensive tackle La'el Collins.

The show also had a serious football moment in which McCarthy reminded the players why they are on the field.

"This is about winning," McCarthy said. "It's about winning a world championship. Period. Period. Because that's all that matters. Going to the playoffs is not good enough. Having a winning season, not good enough. Getting to the championship game, not good enough."