While nothing is certain yet, it appears likely that Joe Looney will be stepping in for Travis Frederick for the first part of 2018. Given this sudden change, should Quarterback Dak Prescott increase his preseason playing time to work on chemistry with his new center?
Earlier this week, Jerry Jones said that he didn’t want Prescott or Running Back Ezekiel Elliott to play anymore in this preseason. He specifically cited the absences of Frederick and Guard Zack Martin as why, not wanting to risk injury to his offensive stars.
But that was before we knew about Frederick’s condition and that he wouldn’t be ready for the season opener, if not more. Given this new reality, does it change the mentality behind Dak’s playing time?
It’s a tough dilemma, and an issue that you can easily come down on either side of depending on your priorities and paranoia.
On the one hand, Prescott and Looney would benefit from more time together. It would be especially beneficial for them to do it in this upcoming third preseason game, aka “the dress rehearsal,” when they will get some extended time against the Arizona Cardinals’ better defensive players.
But as Jerry rightfully said, the risk of injury is real. With Zack Martin also unlikely to play, that means trusting your franchise quarterback’s protection to Looney and little-used Kadeem Edwards.
The Cowboys know all too well how a preseason injury can change a season. They lived it two years ago when Tony Romo went down in the third preseason game, opening the door for Dak Prescott to take over.
The odds that Cooper Rush would come in replicate Dak’s 2016 success are not good. And even if you had another Dak or Nick Foles as your backup, you don’t risk your starter without great reason.
That’s what the coaches have to figure out; is increased chemistry between Prescott and Looney in September worth risking an injury to Dak now?
I expect Dallas to take the safe approach and keep Prescott out of the last two preseason games. Even though it’s not the same as facing a real opponent, Dak and Joe can still work on chemistry over the next two weeks of practice.
But when those brights lights come on in Charlotte, NC on September 9th, could a botched snap or some kind of miscommunication be the difference between winning or losing? Will you then wish Dak Prescott and Joe Looney had had more time together on the field?
That’s just one of many questions that this staff has to figure out as they wade through the uncertainty of Travis Frederick’s situation.