FRISCO, Texas — On Aug. 13, 2016, when Dak Prescott walked into the Los Angeles Coliseum for the primary time, he was already envisioning what’s approaching Saturday.

Prescott was a fourth-spherical decide then, making an attempt to present the Dallas Cowboys he could possibly be Tony Romo’s backup, however the large image was at all times on his thoughts. He was assured he could be a beginning quarterback in the NFL. He was assured he could be in a place to take a crew to a playoff recreation, as he will Saturday (eight:15 p.m. ET, Fox) in opposition to the Los Angeles Rams.

It wasn’t one thing he dreamed; it was one thing be believed.

“I suppose I couldn’t think about it being again in the Coliseum in opposition to the crew I began off my profession,” Prescott mentioned, “however I’ve at all times talked concerning the confidence I’ve had in myself and this crew. Nothing has modified.”

The Coliseum was abuzz on that heat August day. It was the Rams’ first recreation again in Los Angeles. The stadium was full of followers and the sport was nationally televised, with ESPN’s Monday Evening Soccer crew calling the motion.

Prescott was beginning as a result of Kellen Moore, who’s now the Cowboys quarterbacks coach, had suffered a damaged ankle 10 days earlier and, as a veteran, Tony Romo was not going to play in the primary preseason recreation.

Jason Witten didn’t play, however Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams did. Tyron Smith didn’t play, however Travis Frederick and Zack Martin did. Ezekiel Elliott was stored out due to a hamstring pressure, however three-time 1,000-yard runner Alfred Morris performed.

“We had been enjoying that recreation with the concept we wished to see what we had,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan mentioned. “It actually was in all probability all people’s first glimpse of what Dak’s about.”

The stakes might be a lot increased on Saturday on the Los Angeles Coliseum than they had been on Aug. 13, 2016, when Dak Prescott and Jared Goff made their first skilled begins in a preseason recreation. Mark J. Terrill/AP Photograph

Prescott had solely a couple of practices with the primary-crew offense throughout coaching camp in Oxnard, California, with Romo resting each third day. He didn’t take first-crew snaps throughout organized crew actions and the minicamp in the spring. Again then, the Cowboys simply wished him to get higher at taking a snap from middle.

When he joined the primary-crew huddle in camp, a future Corridor of Fame tight finish (Witten), three All-Professional offensive linemen (Smith, Frederick and Martin) and the franchise’s all-time chief in landing catches (Bryant) had been gazing him.

“Instantly off the bat, you may inform he was born to be a chief,” Frederick mentioned. “And knew precisely what he was doing and what he wished to be doing. He by no means struggled with calling the performs otherwise you by no means noticed him really feel like the sport was too large for him, even if you appeared across the huddle and noticed these guys that had been there.”

So possibly it was not shocking to many who Prescott flourished in opposition to the Rams. He accomplished 10 of 12 passes in the primary half for 139 yards and had landing throws of 10 yards to Bryant and 32 yards to Williams. He had a 14-yard run, too, and fully outperformed the No. 1 decide of the 2016 draft and his counterpart Saturday, Jared Goff.

After Moore’s harm, the Cowboys had thought-about buying and selling for Josh McCown and had talks with free agent Nick Foles to be Romo’s backup. Prescott’s efficiency ended these discussions.

“On the finish of the day, it was so significantly better than we thought it might be,” govt vice chairman Stephen Jones mentioned.

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Twelve days after his debut in opposition to the Rams, Prescott turned the Cowboys beginning quarterback when Romo suffered a compression fracture in his again.

Prescott has began each recreation since, profitable 33 video games, together with his first postseason recreation in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks final Saturday in the wild-card spherical. He has a Rookie of the 12 months award on his résumé in addition to a Professional Bowl look.

“I’m not saying I at all times knew he was going to be the place he is now,” Linehan mentioned, “however I believe all of us had a intestine feeling that he was going to be a hell of a participant in this league.”

Now he has the Cowboys in place to advance to their first NFC Championship Recreation since 1995.

When he walks out on to the Coliseum turf on Saturday, his mindset is not going to be too completely different from the one he had when he took the sector on Aug. 13, 2016.

“I don’t ever simply exit to play the sport,” Prescott mentioned. “After I exit, I am going out to play the sport, I am going out with the mindset to win, like I’m the No. 1, like I’m the man whether or not I was then or not. It’s simply form of the way in which I’ve to strategy all of it. All of it labored out.”

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