FRISCO, Texas — Amid well wishes and an outpouring of support, as declarations echo about how Dak Prescott will return better than ever, the Dallas Cowboys took the practice field to prepare for their Monday night game against Arizona.
The season moves on without Prescott. The physical transition took place Thursday when Andy Dalton became the first quarterback other than Prescott to preside over the starting offense in more than four years.
The emotional transition will take a little longer.
A compound fracture and dislocated ankle doesn't alter Prescott's love for this team. The respect and love teammates have for No. 4 doesn't diminish because he won't be able to orchestrate any more victories over the next two-and-a-half months.
The franchise issued a one-minute video on its Twitter account Wednesday night with players offering their prayers and support. Many held up four fingers, the way Ezekiel Elliott did in Sunday's game when he scored a touchdown shortly after his friend was taken off the field on a cart.
The message: "4's up all year."
Prescott showed his appreciation Thursday morning by making an appearance at The Star. It didn't elicit much more than a shrug from Elliott.
"I've been going by seeing him every day," Elliott said. "I'm going to go by and see him as much as I can. If that's every day, I'll go over there every day.
"But I mean, he's in very good spirits. A little bit of pain. A little bit loopy, but he's definitely in good spirits."
Elliott is the exception. Most of Prescott's teammates hadn't seen their quarterback since the emotional aftermath of the injury.
"It was just like a breath of fresh air seeing him today," cornerback Anthony Brown said. "Getting to touch him and talk to him, hear his voice and see what his spirit is like.
"I know he's going to fight and he's going to get through this, and he'll be back in no time."
Head coach Mike McCarthy was struck by Prescott's visit.
"You just see the reaction everybody has that he's here," McCarthy said. "I just think that speaks volumes about him as a man, just the electricity that he brings to our football team."
Once Prescott left The Star it appears he was driven to the doctor's office. He recorded a video from the car, thanking everyone for their love, support and prayers.
Prescott went on to say that he was ready to start his comeback and how "this little adversity" would just be another chapter in his book. He assured everyone he was in great spirits and intended to stay that way. He finished by saying God's purpose and plan is bigger than anything he could see or imagine and "this will be a great comeback and a great story."
The video was posted to Prescott's Instagram account at roughly the same time his teammates took the practice field.
"It was weird," said Elliott, who went through a Cowboys practice for the first time in his career without Prescott next to him.
"It definitely was a little different not having him out there, not having his voice out there," right guard Zack Martin said. "But this is part of the game. The good thing is we have a great guy in Andy to come in and step up and got all the confidence in the world in him.
"It's going to obviously be tough to replace Dak. We know what he means to our team, not only on the field but off the field. But credit to the Joneses and the front office to get a guy like Andy to come in just in case a situation like this happened.
"Hopefully, we'll have a smooth transition."
The transition is far from done. This isn't just about the team adapting to Dalton.
It's about the players staying in contact with Prescott as he begins the long road back. Elliott spoke of how important it was for himself and others to drop by and see Prescott in the coming days and weeks.
"One, we're dealing with COVID and we're already isolated as it is," Elliott said. "Just for him to have that with the injury, to be out of his normal routine and now he can't even really move around with the ankle.
"I just think it's important that we all surround him and show him plenty of love. I think it's important that we continue to involve him."
Brown and others know how much the Cowboys mean to Prescott. The players wouldn't have made a video essentially dedicating the rest of the season to the quarterback if they weren't going to go out there and fight for him.
It's been an emotional few days. But now, this team must turn its attention to the next game on the schedule.
"Just locking in, focusing in, getting ready for these Cardinals," Elliott said. "I mean, we've been talking about it a little bit.
"I know for him, it's going to be hard to be watching that game from home. I think the best way to make him feel better is just by winning.
"So, we've got to go out there and win for him."