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Who will replace Dak Prescott on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals? – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Cooper Rush won a game to replace injured Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott last season, helping to keep the Cowboys on course for the NFC East title.

He will need to earn more than that for Dallas to stay in contention this season.

Prescott is out for several weeks after suffering a fracture near his right thumb in the fourth quarter of a 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 1. Rush’s first start of the season is Sunday against defending champion AFC Cincinnati.

“Going back to the end of his rookie year, Coop has always been a guy I turn to, whether it’s this game or just for help,” Prescott said. “Now I will be able to help him over the next few weeks, to hopefully get the best out of him and the best out of this team.”

Rush made his only career start last season with Prescott sidelined by a calf strain and threw the touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in the final minute of a 20-16 win at Minnesota, giving Dallas a sixth consecutive victory.

Prescott is out for several weeks after suffering a fracture near his right thumb in the fourth quarter of a 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 1. Rush’s first start of the season is Sunday against defending champion AFC Cincinnati.

“Going back to the end of his rookie year, Coop has always been a guy I turn to, whether it’s this game or just for help,” Prescott said. “Now I will be able to help him over the next few weeks, to hopefully get the best out of him and the best out of this team.”

Rush made his only career start last season with Prescott sidelined by a calf strain and threw the touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in the final minute of a 20-16 win at Minnesota, giving Dallas a sixth consecutive victory.

“We’ll build on that experience from last year,” Rush said. “You know, getting my feet wet last year and going out tonight. We’re going to regroup as a team and as a group in attack.

Even before Prescott’s injury, the Cowboys were anemic on offense. Cooper’s offseason trade to Cleveland in a cost-cutting move didn’t look good with new No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb catching just two passes on a record 11 targets.

The Cowboys scored their only points on the first possession, then didn’t cross midfield again until the last minute of the third quarter. An offense that led the NFL last season in points per game at 31.2 and yards at 407 had three and 244.

“Let’s not panic like we can’t do anything on offense,” said Prescott, who was due to have surgery on Monday. “Our coaching staff will find the best position and the best place to put Cooper Rush in every game.”

WHAT WORKS

It was confusing that Ezekiel Elliott didn’t get more carries as he averaged 5.2 yards on 10 carries. The running game appeared much more effective than in the 31-29 loss at Tampa Bay in Game 1 of last season. The Cowboys just haven’t shown they can stick with Kellen Moore calling plays.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Cowboys were bullied at the line of scrimmage in the running game. Leonard Fournette averaged 6 yards per carry in his best game in more than two seasons with the Bucs (127 yards). Tampa Bay had 152 total yards, 40 more than Dallas averaged last season while finishing in the middle of the pack on run defense. The Cowboys will be bottom or near bottom against the run if those numbers don’t improve.

STORE

Micah Parsons is getting a lot of attention from the offensive lines and continues to reach for the quarterback. The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has twice fired Tom Brady. He was the only reason the game was close at halftime (12-3) because both sacks forced field goals, including one missed by the Bucs.

SOLD OUT

The offensive line shows the frayed edges brought on by injuries and staff decisions. The Cowboys allowed four sacks and committed five penalties. Undrafted third-year right tackle Terence Steele had four, with three false starts and one hold call. Steele replaced La’el Collins, released as part of a cost cut.

First-round pick Tyler Smith was the first rookie to start at left tackle in franchise history with eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith out until at least December with a hamstring tear.

Connor McGovern, who took over as left guard for Connor Williams after Williams went to Miami in free agency, sprained his right ankle in the first series and could miss a few games. Matt Farniok, a sophomore drafted in the seventh round, replaced McGovern.

INJURIES

S Jayron Kearse has a knee injury which could sideline him for a few games. He was already battling a neck issue that surfaced during the week.

KEY NUMBER

0-3 – Mike McCarthy’s record in early games as Dallas coach. The only predecessor to lose his first three openers was Dave Campo of 200-02. Campo didn’t get a fourth. If the Cowboys can’t find a way to win with Rush, McCarthy might not get a fourth either.

NEXT STEPS

The Cowboys still have seven games before their open week, and chances are they’ll have to play all of them without Prescott. It’s reasonable for Dallas to hope for a 4-4 record heading into the break, but that’s a lot to ask. The Cowboys lost all seven games Tony Romo missed after he broke his collarbone in Week 2 of 2015. They lost the first four games after Prescott suffered an ankle injury in 2020.