With Dallas returning to Coliseum, a look back at Dak Prescott's debut

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

OXNARD, Calif. -- Perhaps as quarterback Dak Prescott walks down the tunnel at the Los Angeles Coliseum he will take a moment to reflect on how things have changed since playing there a summer ago.

On Aug. 13, 2016, Prescott was a fourth-round draft pick trying to make the Dallas Cowboys' roster, trying to convince the powers that be he could be Tony Romo's backup and there was no need to look for a veteran even with Kellen Moore out for the season.

As he returns to the Coliseum to face the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, Prescott is the Cowboys' quarterback of the present and future, coming off one of the most historical seasons a rookie has had in the NFL.

If the Cowboys knew any of this then, of course, they never would have flirted with the possibility of trading back into the first round to take Paxton Lynch or trading up in later rounds to take Connor Cook. They would not have waited until the 135th overall pick to take Prescott.

But on that night at the Coliseum, Prescott gave the Cowboys a glimpse of what was to come.

The atmosphere

This was not the typical preseason game. This was the NFL's return to Los Angeles for its first game in the Coliseum since 1994. There was a buzz around the stadium hours before kickoff and during warm-ups. Former players roamed the sidelines. The capacity of the stadium was expanded for the game. More than 89,000 showed up. Celebrities dotted the landscape. ESPN had its Monday Night Football setup with Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden calling the game.

In pregame, Randy Moss, an ESPN analyst, hugged team owner Jerry Jones as they joked about what could have been had the Cowboys selected the receiver in 1998.

Prescott: "That was a normal crowd to me being from the SEC. It was a college venue, it was 100,000 people. I guess you can say the impact of the crowd, I do not ever pay attention to that. I do not care if its 30,000 or it's 130,000 in the stadium -- that's not really any of my focus going into a game."

First drive

Prescotts first pass came on a bootleg and it was dropped by tight end Geoff Swaim. The throw was fine. Swaim just dropped it. Prescott's first third-down pass went to Cole Beasley for 15 yards, which is something they combined a lot on in the regular season.

Three plays later, he and Dez Bryant hooked up for a back-shoulder throw for an 18-yard gain. Timing on such a play normally requires a lot of work together.

Bryant: "Man, not with that guy. He see it. He do it."

A second third-down conversion came on a screen to Alfred Morris. Prescott beat the Rams' blitz with a 8-yard throw underneath to Beasley. On second-and-5 from the Los Angeles 10, Prescott saw Bryant matched up in one-on-one coverage with Coty Sensabaugh. There was no doubt where he was going.

The ball was high and to the pylon, giving Bryant the best chance to come down with the touchdown.

Prescott: "I mean, I realized that five years ago watching the Cowboys. You can just throw it near Dez Bryant and he will make the plays. But, yeah, it's a lot of fun. You get out there and you actually get to throw it to him and just watch what he does. Just give him a chance."

Second drive

Prescott ended the first quarter with a 22-yard completion to Brice Butler, taking a hit after releasing the pass. He then showed he can get the ball deep.


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