The biggest topic of discussion this week, perhaps other than the fact that the NFC East title is on the line, is Dak Prescott’s injury. The Cowboys franchise quarterback injured his shoulder in the dominant win over the Rams and his status for Sunday has been in question. Fortunately, it looks like 4 will be able to go.
The Dallas Cowboys are not listing quarterback Dak Prescott on their final injury report Friday despite him being limited all week with a shoulder injury.
That means Prescott is set to play in Sunday’s key NFC East game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Prescott had declared his availability earlier in the week, saying Thursday “I’ll be good to go” against the Eagles.
He had been limited at practice for the first time in his career Wednesday. He also didn’t throw Thursday but was seen making light throws with little velocity during the portion of Friday’s practice that was open to the media.
He said Thursday it is unlikely that he will wear any added protection for his shoulder because he doesn’t want it to hinder his throwing motion, and he was not sure if he would need any painkilling injection before the game.
WATCH: Here is every play involving Dak Prescott’s shoulder after injuring it in the first quarter - Connor Livesay, BTB
Our own Connor Livesay went back and watched every throw Prescott made after injuring his shoulder last week. Definitely worth checking out.
The talk around Dallas this week leading up to the NFC East Championship game is how effective can Dak Prescott be with his injury to his throwing shoulder?
While there’s no way to be sure just how effective #4 will be on Sunday, we can take a look at his performance last wee AFTER injuring his shoulder to see how/if it hindered him. It should be stated that it’s unlikely that much swelling or inflammation of the shoulder had already kicked in during the game last Sunday, but it’s still something to look at as we wait to see how he does against the Eagles this Sunday.
#14 - screen to Cobb. Dropped, but wasn't going to get much either way. Plenty of velocity on the ball. pic.twitter.com/GQ83kG8uol— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Another throw that shows plenty of velocity, ball placement, and shoulder mobility. This is a rather quick release for Prescott, from a sidearm arm-slot that he’s still able to get plenty of velocity on to give Randall Cobb a chance on the screen.
Dak Prescott goes all week without full practice before Eagles-Cowboys - Dave Zangaro, NBC Sports Philadelphia
It remains to be seen how a week without a full practice will impact Prescott’s performance on Sunday.
The Eagles obviously know that Prescott has been listed on the injury report, but they don’t know the true severity of the injury. Only Prescott and perhaps some staff in Dallas know that.
So the Eagles are preparing as if Prescott is going into the game at 100 percent.
“Listen, if you know Dak Prescott and I’ve had a chance to meet him and talk to him, he’s a tough kid,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s not going to miss this game; we know that. He’s a competitor and he’ll want to play. At the same time, it is what it is. He’s on the injury report just like our guys. It’s nothing really more than that. Expect a full Dak Prescott on Sunday.”
Despite going the whole week without a full practice, Prescott was without an injury designation on the Cowboys’ final injury report Friday.
Stephen Jones: Cowboys will have whole playbook despite Dak Prescott’s injury - Charean Williams, PFT
Stephen Jones insists that the playbook will not be limited.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t expect to notice a difference.
“No player at this point at this point in the season is at 100 percent after you go through the grind of an NFL season,” Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “But knowing Dak, knowing his competitive nature, knowing how gritty and tough he is, I think we’ll get his best. I think he’ll be right there ready to compete at the highest level, and there’s no one I’d rather have under center than him.”
“Absolutely. We’ll have the whole playbook open,” Jones said. “Had a lot of conversations with our trainers, with everybody making sure that’s the case. Everybody feels that way.”
Dak Prescott set to start for Cowboys; Lane Johnson ruled out, 4 Eagles questionable for crucial Week 16 tilt - Daniel Gallen, PennLive
While Dak will suit up for the Cowboys, tackle Lane Johnson will not for Philly.
The Eagles, meanwhile, won’t have right tackle Lane Johnson for the second straight week because of a high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 14. Earlier in the week, Pederson said Johnson was “day-to-day” after he was “week-to-week,” which is an upgrade in Pederson’s parlance, but Johnson did not participate in practice all week.
“He’s trending in the right direction,” Pederson said Friday morning. “Again, we’ll see where he is at at the end of the day, but I’m optimistic. At the same time, have to be smart with it.”
Fourth-year pro Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start in Johnson’s place at right tackle, where he’ll match up with Cowboys star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.
The Eagles listed wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee), defensive end Derek Barnett (ankle), running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and cornerback Avonte Maddox (knee) as questionable for Sunday.
Doug Pederson says Dallas “has our number”. Will that continue this weekend?
Pederson is 2-5 against the Cowboys, although in the loss on the last day of the 2017 regular season with the Eagles already locked into the No. 1 seed came with backup players.
“This team has our number right now,” Pederson said Friday.
The Eagles face the Cowboys on Sunday at the Linc with a chance at the NFC East title at stake.
A win combined with a win against the Giants a week from Sunday gives the Eagles the NFC East title and a playoff berth. A loss gives the division title to the Cowboys.
A Cowboys win Sunday would make Dallas the first team to win the NFC East two years in a row since the Eagles in 2003 and 2004 and give the Cowboys three division titles in the last four years.
He conceded Friday that the Eagles’ failures against the Cowboys bother him.
“I do think about that,” Pederson said Friday. “The start of the season every head coach gets up and says, ’Let’s take care of our division.’ You take care of your division, you’re in the postseason. The Cowboys have been a team we’ve struggled with, honestly. It’s something we’ve just got to continue to work and try to overcome. They’ve had our number here recently and then really since my time here in Philly. It’s something that as we look at the tape and how I prepare the football team and get ready to play and all of that, I look at all of that. At the end of the day, we’re focused on this game, and hopefully we can turn things around. We do well with the other teams. It’s just this one team that has our number right now.”
Jason Garrett, meanwhile, will be looking to move to 8-2 against the Eagles in their own city this weekend.
Jason Garrett is 7-2 as the head coach of games in Philly. Since taking over in the middle of the 2010 season, Garrett has only lost two games in Philadelphia as the head coach. The Cowboys have actually won six of the last seven games at the Linc, with the only loss in that span occurring in 2016 when the Cowboys pulled most of their starters before halftime of the season finale. The Cowboys lost that game but still had No. 1 seed locked up for the playoffs.
Fresh and healthy Ezekiel Elliott primed to carry Dallas Cowboys to NFC East title - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
The Cowboys may lean on Zeke more on Sunday with Prescott dealing with his injury. The good news is that Zeke has good history against the Eagles and Hill writes that he is “primed to carry Dallas Cowboys to NFC East title”.
Elliott is feeling especially spry after last week’s effort in the 44-21 victory against the Los Angeles Rams when he rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and had 43 yards in receptions to mark his first game of 2019 with over 153 all-purpose yards.
Backup Tony Pollard had 131 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys amassed a season-high 263 rushing yards.
Elliott believes they can build on that performance against the Eagles.
“I feel great about the run game. I feel good about this week,” Elliott said. “O-line definitely had one of their best games last week. Hopefully we’re starting to get this thing clicking. Got some good momentum and want to keep this thing running.”
For Elliott, it’s a matter of continuing what he has always done against the Eagles. He is 5-0 all-time against the Eagles, rushing 118 times for 574 yards (four 100-yard games) and two touchdowns. He has hauled in 36 catches for 241 yards and a score.
All this includes him running for 111 yards and a touchdown and catching six passes for 36 yards in a 37-10 victory against Philadelphia earlier this season.
Friday Cowboys Riffing: Previewing the pivotal Sunday showdown in Philadelphia - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Sturm previews the critical NFC East showdown, writing that the matchup to watch is Zeke versus the Eagles defense.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Ezekiel Elliott vs. the Eagles Run Defense
Despite the Eagles’ fine rushing defense, we should point out they have never really shut down Ezekiel Elliott. In five career games against the Eagles, he has averaged 115 yards on the ground and 48 more through the air. I think we can say he freaks them out a bit when we talk about 160+ per game and 4.9 per carry over 118 rushing attempts, too. His work against the Eagles far exceeds that against other NFC East opponents. And, most importantly, the Cowboys have never lost a game to the Eagles in which he has played.
What should we expect from tomorrow’s game? We talked to Brandon Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation to find out.
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Here’s how Dallas Cowboys fans are feeling at Week 16.