Eagles' Wentz, Cowboys' Prescott set for rookie QB showcase

FRISCO, Texas (AP) Because they were on opposing teams at the Senior Bowl, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott didn't spend much time together talking about the future.

Even if they had, it's hard to imagine the soon-to-be rookie quarterbacks in Philadelphia and Dallas could have come up with this doozy: Exactly nine months after that showcase, they would face each other in a key NFC East prime-time game as the ''toast of the town'' in both cities, as one of their coaches described it.

''That's a lot of what ifs and a lot of different things happening for this to all play out like this,'' Wentz said. ''It's exciting for him, for me. Obviously, it's going to be played up into something. It's cool to see another young guy like him that I've come to know and to see the success he's having.''

Wentz starting the opener wasn't really a stretch by draft time because he went No. 2 overall to the Eagles. But there was still the surprising trade just before the season that sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota, clearing Wentz's path to the job .

Prescott was a fourth-round pick who started training camp competing for the No. 3 job.

Backup Kellen Moore got hurt first, breaking an ankle in camp. Then 10-year starter Tony Romo broke a bone in his back in a preseason game, and the 135th selection in the draft had shown enough in the preseason for the Cowboys to believe he could handle the starting role .

Now that the Cowboys (5-1) have won five straight and are tied with the Vikings for the best record in the NFC, the question is whether Romo gets his job back when he's ready to play again.

That issue can wait at least one more week. Meantime, these longtime rivals get to watch the apparent futures of their franchises square off Sunday night after an early season stretch when they kept trading the rookie record for pass attempts without an interception to start a career.

''It's great from an NFL standpoint because obviously these two kids are the talk of the town, let's say,'' first-year Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ''It is fun. It's fun for a coach to watch. I think it's fun for players to watch it. It's exciting for the fans.''

Prescott said the pair got to know each other better at the NFL combine after spending more time together. The Dallas rookie said they stayed in touch via text as the offseason continued, but haven't been in contact since the season started.

''I don't really think too much of it or make it a big deal out of the opponent or who I'm playing if it's another rookie or not,'' Prescott said. ''Carson's doing a great job and as I said, I wish him all the luck except when we meet up.''

Wentz cooled off a little sooner than Prescott, throwing his first interception on the final pass of his fourth game, the start of a two-game skid for the Eagles (4-2). Prescott's only pick of the season came in the sixth game, a win at Green Bay.

And while Wentz's passer rating has dropped significantly each of the past two weeks, Prescott has a franchise rookie record of five straight games with a rating of at least 100.

The bottom line is wins, though. And these are the top two teams in a division that's stronger than expected.

''They know how to win,'' Pederson said. ''They know how to lead their teams. Nothing seems to be too big for either one of them. They take it in stride. The ability to protect the football I think through these first six, seven games like this has been crucial.''

The biggest difference is the college background. Prescott came from Mississippi State and the SEC, specifically the SEC West, which earlier this season he jokingly called the ''third-best conference or division in all of football behind the AFC and NFC.''

Wentz had the small-school tag coming out of North Dakota State, although it's not like most small schools. He was the starter for the last two of five straight lower-division national championships. In his mind, that was just part of it.

''I was at the line making audibles, calling the protections, run-game checks, in the huddle, all those things that correlate to the NFL,'' he said. ''The game's very similar. We just call things different in this offense. I think that was actually an advantage where I went to school.''

As for the similarities, many of the same words come from Pederson and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, whose staff had Wentz on its team at the Senior Bowl: preparation, maturity, leadership.

The Eagles knew they were drafting their future at quarterback. The Cowboys were hoping. It's looking like both franchises did.

''We got to know each other during some of the other rookie things and the combine and everything,'' Wentz said. ''I thought we got along great. I thought we were good friends. Who knows? We might be playing each other for a long time.''

But they can't exactly say they saw it coming.

---

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.