FRISCO, Texas (AP)Dak Prescott fiddled with his surgically repaired right thumb while waiting just outside the view of cameras for young standout linebacker Micah Parsons to finish his session with reporters.

Then the star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys said he was playing Sunday against the Detroit Lions, which would end a five-game absence since fracturing the thumb on his throwing hand in the opener.

Prescott didn’t want to overstate his eagerness to return, particularly since he’s just two years removed from the gruesome ankle injury that ended his 2020 season in Week 5.

”It’s about staying where my feet are,” Prescott said. ”Just thankful I went out there and had a good practice. Just put my mind right where I am, and when I look up I’ll be prepared ready to go for Sunday.”

A few hours earlier, coach Mike McCarthy left little doubt of the return of Prescott, who said after a 26-17 loss to Philadelphia last week that he expected to return against the Lions.

Prescott threw 40 passes during a scaled-back practice Wednesday coming off the primetime loss to the Eagles with first place in the NFC East on the line.

”I thought he looked very good,” McCarthy said. ”We’ll look to expand that (Thursday) and put him in the lead chair as far as reps just to give him the opportunity to prepare to play.”

Prescott joked that he threw 140 passes in a full practice Thursday, his way of saying he wasn’t on a pitch count with his throws.

”I wasn’t limited by any means,” Prescott said.

The loss to Philadelphia ended a four-game winning streak with backup Cooper Rush, who lost for the first time in six starts filling in for an injured Prescott. The other victory was last season at Minnesota.

There was plenty of concern after the Dallas offense played poorly even before Prescott injured his thumb in a 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay in the opener.

Instead, Dallas (4-2) is one of four NFC teams with winning records, set to face one of two one-win teams in the conference in the Lions (1-4).

Chicago, another struggling NFC North team, visits next week.

”He went out there and did everything I expected Cooper to do,” Prescott said. ”Understand that everybody had to raise their level and everybody is going to continue to raise their level. That is what he has done and what the team has done. Now I can come back and we can keep rolling.”

McCarthy credited the players’ participation in the offseason program and a mostly healthy training camp in California with helping Dallas stay in contention without Prescott.

”I think it’s a credit to the whole team, especially what Cooper Rush was able to do,” McCarthy said. ”I think it’s all those things, they add up and then it’s all part of keeping the train on the tracks.”

The Cowboys went off the rails in 2020 after Prescott broke his right ankle, losing the first four games on the way to a 6-10 finish.

Rush kept that from happening again, making Prescott’s return even more of a boost for a club confident it can return to the playoffs after last season’s wild-card loss to San Francisco.

”Coop did an amazing job for us, but (Prescott) is kind of that life source for us on offense,” five-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. ”Not just playing-wise, but energy-wise, presence-wise. He definitely brings that part back.”

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