FRISCO - New Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy did his best to put to bed any idea that Dak Prescott is unhappy or under-appreciated, talking in a Friday conference call with the media in glowing terms of the quarterback's talent and mood.
On Dak the player: "Dak has done a great job with the time away. I really like the QB room. ... He's looked very good in the throwing segments. Very pleased and very impressed.''
On Dak the personality: 'With us being around each other for the first time, I've enjoyed his personality. Very upbeat and very driven. A lot of fun to be around.''
There has been speculation that Prescott harbored some unhappiness with the outcome of his contract negotiations, which did not result in a long-term contract. If that is true - Dak is playing under the franchise-tag salary of $31.409 million - McCarthy hasn't seen it.
That leaves the new head coach, the former Green Bay fixture who took the job while surely never thinking he’d be wearing a bracelet monitor that lights up when he gets within six feet of a player, trying to oversee some normalcy in a COVID-19 time.
"That conversation is a constant one,'' he said. "We've presented all the resources we have to beat this challenge of COVID-19 and our players have done a good job. ... The education process continues to be upgrades as we learn more and more.''
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McCarthy’s list of accomplishments is long; he's one of the most successful coaches in Packers history with his 125 wins, nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl victory in 2010. But COVID-19 creates a unique challenge. So, the coach said, does the ongoing civil-rights movement.
"It's made me take a hard look at the blind spots I may have in my life from my experiences," he said. "We all need to listen more. How can we all be part of the progress?"
McCarthy said he's impressed with his rookie group, suggested advantages to flexibility in the secondary (a hint that corner Chidobe Awuzie might also play safety) and applauded Amari Cooper for pushing the idea of employing a trio of 1,000-yard wide receivers.
"The most important thing is I love the way (Cooper) thinks,'' the coach said. "'We're gonna need all of our perimeter players when it comes to touches. (And) Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) is a primary target as far as him touching the football.''
The Cowboys will hold their first team practice in shells next Friday at The Star in Frisco, McCarthy said. At that time ... more normalcy.
"This is a time to trust your instincts,'' he said. "You want to create the most competitive environment you can. Next Friday will be our first practice in shells ...''
And to McCarthy, that means another elevation in upbeat-and-driven "competitiveness.''