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Rust may play a factor in the Cowboys season opener against Tampa Bay

The true first-team offense won’t take a game snap together until Sep. 9th.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of dealing with the age-old dilemma of rest versus rust. The Cowboys' most important player, quarterback Dak Prescott, is at the center of the conversation.

Ever since tweaking his shoulder back on July 28th, the Cowboys’ quarterback has been very limited in his participation. When speaking to reporters on Friday morning, Mike McCarthy confirmed that Prescott will not take part in the third preseason game, but will attempt to “pick up the pace” in practice next week.

Prescott missing the third preseason game confirms that he will see no game action during the preseason since coach had already ruled him out of the fourth game. When the Cowboys’ signal-caller takes the field against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sep. 9th, it will be his first live game action in 333 days.

So will the Cowboys’ offense be rusty in the season opener? Well, the short answer is likely yes, but there really isn’t much they can do about it. While answering this week's mailbag piece, David Helman of Dallascowboys.com made the point that even if the offense is rusty for a game or two, it’s better than rushing your star quarterback out there in a meaningless preseason game.

“I completely agree, but what are they supposed to do about that? It would be insane to rush Dak back onto the field because you’re worried about rust. And you don’t want to expose your starters to injury by giving them too much playing time. It’s not ideal for the start of the season, but it’s important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Helman’s point is correct. It would be absolutely foolish to rush Prescott back before he is completely ready to return, but after going almost a full calendar year without getting any game reps it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to come out in Week 1 firing on all cylinders. It doesn’t help that the Cowboys have to play on the road against arguably the best team in football right off the bat.

It’s pretty much a guarantee there will be some rust on the offensive side of the ball, but just how much will be the true story. Will it take Prescott and the rest of the offense just a couple of series to get into a rhythm, or will it take much longer?

When you’re playing a team as good as the Buccaneers, you better get off to a fast start. The Cowboys’ offense better be able to shake off the rust quick, or it could be a rough opening night for the Cowboys in Tampa.