Cowboys’ Dak Prescott out for ‘Sunday Night Football’ vs. Vikings with calf injury, Cooper Rush to start

Dak Prescott is healthy enough to play against the Minnesota Vikings, but the Dallas Cowboys won’t allow him to, making the star quarterback inactive for tonight’s prime-time game in Minneapolis. That means Cooper Rush will get the nod at starter and Will Grier will serve as the backup. Prescott suffered a calf strain on the walk-off touchdown in overtime against the New England Patriots in Week 6, and took the podium in a walking boot deemed precautionary by both the team and a jovial Prescott, who readily proclaimed he would “fine”, and he’s long since ditched the boot as he continued to rehab at practice this past week.

The well-timed bye helped Prescott rest and recover, and owner Jerry Jones was fairly convicted in his belief Prescott would take the field for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Football” — labeling it a “big ole thumbs up” regarding Prescott’s status for Week 8 — though no decision was set to be made until after the pregame warmups. The guessing game is now over, though, and Prescott will miss his first game of the 2021 season with the calf injury.

If it were a playoff game, however, Prescott noted the odds of him playing would “no question” be “100%”.

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Instead, with the Cowboys sitting 5-1 on the season and harboring a healthy lead atop the NFC East, the team is opting to play the long game regarding Prescott, wanting to make sure there are no lingering issues going forward. Rush will make his first career NFL start despite having been in the league since the Cowboys signed him out of undrafted free agency in 2017. He’d eventually be waived by Dallas following the 2019 season, not long after the Cowboys signed Andy Dalton to play backup to Prescott, going on to reunite with longtime head coach Jason Garrett as a member of the New York Giants.

Rush couldn’t crack the Giants’ practice squad, though, and after being released by Big Blue, Rush rejoined the Cowboys in October 2020 — following Prescott’s season-ending fractured ankle. The club would go on to a carousel of starters that included Dalton, Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci to little success, but Rush remained backup throughout the floundering season.

He’ll be thrust into the white-hot lights at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, having attempted only three career NFL passes and completing just one of them for 2 yards with no touchdowns. The Cowboys believe Rush gives them a great chance to win in hostile territory against a talented Kirk Cousins and impact defense led by Mike Zimmer, and they’re about to find out if that’s true. 

Will Grier, signed this summer to the Cowboys, will serve as Rush’s backup.

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