Cowboys Should Load Manage Dak Prescott vs. Vikings

Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott / Maddie Malhotra/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys are for real this year. The offense has been as good as anybody could've hoped for while the defense found gold in Treveon Diggs and does just enough on a week-to-week basis to keep things close. Most importantly and most impressively, Dak Prescott has been essentially immaculate after missing nearly all of last year with a broken ankle. The sixth-year quarterback has thrown for 1,813 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions in six games in 2021. Dallas has won five games, and their one loss came to the defending Super Bowl champions in a nailbiter on opening night.

The season could not have gotten off to a much better start. But trouble potentially looms on the horizon. Prescott strained his calf on his game-winning touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb against the Patriots in Week 6. The Cowboys, fortunately, had a bye week in Week 7 so Prescott got some time to rest up, but he's still on the injury report heading into Sunday's matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

While a strained calf is nothing too serious, Prescott's brutal injury from last season isn't that far in the rearview. Everybody understands that the Cowboys' hopes rest entirely upon the shoulders of Prescott. If he gets hurt again, it'll be 2020 all over again. But if he stays on the field, the sky is the limit. Thus, there has been discussion this week about whether the Cowboys should "load manage" Prescott's injury and keep him out of the team's next contest against Minnesota. ESPN has discussed the matter at length this week.

And you know what? The more I think about it, the more it makes sense for Prescott to sit out this week. The concept of load management has negative connotations, primarily that players who are healthy will sit out a game they could've played. That isn't really what's happening here. Prescott has an injury, albeit a mild one. He was on the injury report all week. It isn't like the Cowboys are scared his ankle is going to twist the wrong way on a fluke play again and want to sit him against an inferior opponent to avoid any possibility of that happening.

There's no need for Prescott to play this game unless he is 100 percent. The Vikings are 3-3 with a dangerous offense and are already in must-win mode, so it will not be an easy game. They aren't the Texans. But Dallas already has a three-game lead in the division. They'd like to win as many games as possible in order to gain homefield advantage come playoff time, but that obviously isn't worth the cost of a hobbled Prescott.

Dallas would like to establish some more momentum coming off a bye week after their exciting win in New England. A victory over Minnesota would certainly do the trick. But without Prescott, there is no hope in the long-term. The team could cobble together a win without Prescott this week, even if it's unlikely. Better to be safe than sorry. Prescott should sit this one out.