OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott keeps checking off the boxes in his return from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle he suffered last October. On Thursday, he went through his first full practice, including 11-on-11 drills.
"There was no part of practice that I thought about my ankle, thought about any physical thing holding me back, to be honest with you," Prescott said.
Next month, he will play in the preseason, although maybe not the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I definitely want to play. As far as giving you a number or quantity of how much I need to, I just want to obviously get back out there and get some reps before it's real," Prescott said. "Just to have a live defense coming at me, hopefully not take too many licks because I have great protection, but that's part of the game, and I think it would obviously be great to get up from that, wipe it off and be just another process of burying the injury. I think it will be huge."
Prescott is already looking forward to the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"What a special way to start this season off, not only for us but for this league, for fans: America's Team playing obviously the reigning Super Bowl champions with the best quarterback to do it," Prescott said. "I'm excited for them. I'm excited for the matchup against this defense, a very talented defense. I know our defense is very excited for that matchup against Tom and his guys. It's going to be special, not only for us in Cowboys nation but for this NFL. It will be a great way to kick off the season and kick off our season the right way."
Before he gets to that point, Prescott understands the work that needs to be done while the Cowboys are in Oxnard for training camp.
During the organized team activities and minicamp this offseason, Prescott took part in every aspect of practice except team drills. McCarthy said Prescott made a "strong first impression" during the first practice, in which he completed 11 of 16 passes during team drills.
"He looks no different today than my experience with him in live training camp action last year. That's the consistent comparable I think for everybody that's been involved with his rehab," McCarthy said. "As we go into padded practices, I think clearly that will be a threshold that he'll get over, particularly with the bodies around him as we get into the team work. I watched him closely in the team work live (Thursday) by design. He didn't flinch. It looked like he never left. So that's a good point."
Prescott has big expectations for the Cowboys' offense that will have not only him healthy, but also offensive linemen Tyron Smith, La'el Collins and Zack Martin, who combined to miss 36 games. Tight end Blake Jarwin suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game and is now 100 percent.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is still working through offseason ankle surgery, but the Cowboys' trio of Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb is considered among the best in the league. And Prescott said, "I expect to see the best Zeke we've ever seen in the NFL," when talking about Ezekiel Elliott.
"Stats, scoring, whatever you want to say, we want to be the best offense and we want to make sure we're playing complementary football first and foremost with our defense and with our special teams," Prescott said. "It's just not about getting out there and throwing it 100 times. But it's about playing complementary football, the run game, the pass game, the action game, and allowing the defense to get rest. Giving the defense a chance to get out there and to be their best when they're out there as well. First and foremost, just be the best offense in the NFL."