David Chao, MD: Dak Prescott Shoulder Injury Not A One-Day Thing

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The Dallas Cowboys are trying to stay optimistic about the latest injury to star QB Dak Prescott, citing it as day-to-day. The reality is Prescott is likely to miss a good part of training camp because of the shoulder injury.

I am not saying this will derail the season or even impact regular season games, but it is not a “nothing” injury. Any time a MRI actually sees a muscle injury, that means there is some structural damage/swelling. This is not simple soreness. Week-to-week is the more likely timetable and, depending on severity, it can leak into a month or longer (I certainly hope it will not).

Prescott reportedly strained (remember, a strain is a tear) his latissimus dorsi, a major muscle in the upper back and considered part of the shoulder girdle. This muscle is important for throwing and has sidelined many a pitcher in baseball. The good news is that at least it doesn’t involve his rotator cuff, which would carry a much worse prognosis for Prescott.

The team has to be careful that this current injury doesn’t stem from compensation from the ankle fracture/dislocation recovery. Although I have been optimistic from the start that Dak would be ready to go for Week 1, that does not mean he is 100% and he seemed to favor the left ankle slightly in training camp video. The worry is if he has a slight hitch or weakness in push off, Prescott might overcompensate and strain his shoulder. 

Similarly, Carson Wentz returning early from his multi-ligament knee injury in 2018 may have aggravated his lower back stress fracture. He may have overarched his back if he could not step normally due to injury. I am sure the quality Cowboys medical staff will be on top of the compensation issue.

At least Dak’s ankle is not the area injured. Prescott has displayed amazing toughness after the ankle injury. I even named him my “beast of the week” after he slammed his ankle on the ground to try and put it back in place before calling for help. With internal fortitude like that, my assumption is Prescott will do well handling this setback. 

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Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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