Andy Dalton aims to keep Dallas Cowboys offense from drop-off without Dak Prescott

FRISCO, Texas -- As he prepares for his first start as the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, filling in for the injured Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton has high standards.

"We don't see things changing much. I feel like we can just run this offense," Dalton said Friday. "I've been in a lot of different systems and kind of been through it all, so I like everything that we're doing and my job is to keep this thing exactly how Dak had it. Dak was playing really well, and we don't feel like we want there to be any drop-off since he's not going to be in there."

Prescott leads the NFL with 1,856 yards passing despite missing the last quarter-and-a-half of last week's win against the New York Giants with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. His nine touchdowns are tied for ninth in the NFL, and the Cowboys are averaging 32.6 points per game, which is third in the league.

Dalton, 32, started 133 games during his nine-year run with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Obviously, I've been used to starting. I mean for the last nine years, so my role is a little different the first five games being behind Dak, but now it's like getting back to basically how it was for me," Dalton said. "And so I know how to prepare. I've got a routine that I've been used to that I've done that I feel like has worked really well for me. It's not really a whole lot new that I'm trying to figure out. I've got the experience of doing this for a while."

Prescott was at The Star for a spell on Thursday as he begins his recovery. He had started every game since 2016 when the Cowboys took him in the fourth round, and he was the team leader. Coach Mike McCarthy said Prescott's absence from Thursday's practice was noticeable.

"You can never take for granted the presence and the command of Dak Prescott. It was definitely noticeable," McCarthy said. "Frankly, it hit me from the practice structure when I went out to the quarterback school, not having him there with the two quarterbacks. But you have to turn the page on all injury situations. I think we were so fortunate and blessed to have Andy Dalton. Andy has such a great way about him. It's a different leadership style. But the practice, the efficiency that I'm always looking for as far as communication from the playcaller to the command of the huddle, the pre-snap awareness and instincts, obviously your post-snap execution, I thought we had a good day and that's a real credit to Andy."

Dalton saw two snaps of action in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons as Prescott was getting evaluated for a possible concussion. After replacing Prescott against the Giants, he completed 9 of 11 passes for 111 yards, including two completions to Michael Gallup that set up the winning field goal.

He said the perspective of watching Prescott in the first five games will help.

"Your role is a lot different and you're seeing things from a different vantage point being on the sideline and not being the guy out there," Dalton said. "It definitely gives you appreciation for being out there, being the guy, being the one that's out there with the ability to impact the game. Yeah, I mean I definitely think it's going to make me a better quarterback."