How the Cowboys get ready on a short week

Dak looking forward to Thanksgiving (0:42)

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is moving on from the loss to the Eagles and looks forward to a Thanksgiving matchup vs. the Chargers. (0:42)

FRISCO, Texas -- At close to 11 p.m. Sunday night, the final few players left the locker room AT&T Stadium following the Dallas Cowboys' 37-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their bodies ached after a game that lasted two hours, 57 minutes. Their minds raced after the team's worst loss in the brief history of the $1.2 billion stadium. The Cowboys fell to 5-5, losers of two straight and out of the playoff picture in the NFC.

"I'd play tomorrow if I could," Dak Prescott said postgame behind the lectern, sans bow tie for what might have been the first time in his two years.

That was the adrenaline talking, but Prescott will be back at AT&T Stadium on Thursday to take on the Los Angeles Chargers about 90 hours after the loss to Philadelphia.

"As soon as the game is over, there's a couple hours there but then you start that process all over again," tight end Jason Witten said. "I think we have a good formula for it. It's never easy. You've got to get on top of it right away. Oftentimes people say the older you get, how do you do it? To me it just becomes a little bit of your lifestyle, how you go about it. ... The older I get, it never gets in the way of allowing me to do what I have to do at a high level. You've got to get on top of it at the beginning after the game, start the process emotionally more than anything else because that Thursday game gets on you quick."


If not for the night kickoff against the Eagles, the Cowboys' medical staff would have headed directly from the stadium in Arlington to The Star in Frisco to begin treatments on players. But with the late ending, the thought was sleep was a better option than immediate treatment.

Sick call was at 9 a.m. CT for all of the injured players. A lot of players arrived earlier. And, healthy players showed up for preventative maintenance.

Jason Garrett and the coaches reviewed the film of the Eagles' loss, but as a team the players did not. In Bill Belichick parlance, the Cowboys were on to Los Angeles.

Officially, the Cowboys didn't practice Monday. They held a walkthrough that dealt with normal Wednesday duties. The focus was on first and second down and the run game, offensively and defensively. On the injury report, only Sean Lee was listed as DNP. Everybody else was listed as limited or a full participant.

Travis Frederick will play his fifth Thanksgiving game Thursday and he still does not have a routine to get through the quick turnaround.

"I keep trying to figure out what Witt does," Frederick said of teammate Jason Witten. "There's something. He's got this thing. I don't know what it is. I've added things to my repertoire. I've added a hyperbaric chamber. I've had mixed success with that. I did a little more cold tub. I did cryo for a while and wasn't having as much success with that so now I've gone back to the cold tub for a more extended period of time. Added more massage. I'm doing more treatment in the training room. Just trying to figure those things out and see what's successful and what's worth my time."


It's actually Thursday. Confused? Don't be. In the NFL world, the Cowboys held a Thursday practice. They were not in pads or helmets.

The tempo of the practice is just above a walkthrough. It focuses on third-down and two-minute situations.

Garrett was heard during the portion of practice open to the media, yelling, "Let's go. Let's go. It's Thursday."

As music played over the sound system inside Ford Center, some players danced. Others stretched more. Others stood waiting for their reps.

The workout lasted less than an hour with Garrett wanting to get the players off their feet earlier in the day than he had originally planned. The less time on the practice field makes it a more mental week, but the game plan isn't any smaller than if the Cowboys were on a regular week.

"Coaches have done a great job just in the practice schedule and making sure we are out there and we are fresh," Prescott said. "We are getting all the reps we need to mentally in the film room, in walkthroughs. That part of the game is getting handled. So it's about me watching as much film as I can in these couple of days. It's a team we are not too familiar with, but we know their schemes from other teams."

In a way it's like cramming for a test. There is always another game to watch, another defense to check, but what about rest?

"Either I let my confidence that I'm good with the defense take over or let my eyes that say you need to go to sleep take over," Prescott joked. "So I let that decide itself."


In a normal week, this would be a full-padded practice. In a normal week, this is when a player's body starts to feel normal again. The soreness is still there but not quite as bad as a Monday or Tuesday.

The practice, again without pads and helmets, focused on short-yardage and goal-line situations, but the snaps are cut back.

Since kickoff is the next day, the players will also go through special situations, like end-of-game scenarios and hurry-up field goal attempts.

Players had a short period of time to go home before returning to the Omni at The Star for team meetings. There was more rehab to be done. By staying at the Omni, the players have access to all of their state-of-the-art recovery equipment at their practice facility. The work, such as it was, was finished.

"There's an adrenaline rush that comes with Thanksgiving and family coming in, and it's a little bit of a 72-hour rush that comes with it, but that can only take you so far," Witten said. "When you get to Thursday, that guy across from you is really good and you've got to be able to expect what you're asking your body to do. Mentally, are you prepared to know it like the back of your hand? To me, by taking the emotion out of it, it allows you to jump out on a Monday and get ahead of it. Adrenaline is not going to take you all the way through it."