FRISCO, Texas -- If the Dallas Cowboys have to play without Ezekiel Elliott, who has been suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the personal conduct policy, they might be able to lean on quarterback Dak Prescott, who followed a great training camp and offseason with a lights out performance in his first preseason action.
The second-year quarterback completed 7 of 8 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Prescott finished with a perfect passer rating (158.3).
"It felt great," Prescott said. "I was ready to play a lot more than I did. I think what we're getting at is getting the routes locked in ready to go. It was good to get back out there."
The Cowboys has said all along that they expected Prescott to be better than he was in his rookie season because of an increased knowledge of the offense and comfort in the system.
It showed against the Colts, as the Cowboys went to a hurry-up offense on the first series of the game.
"A lot more confidence; a lot more knowledge in what I'm doing," Prescott said. "I'm just going out there and trying to give all these guys on offense a chance with the ball."
One area specifically that Prescott has gotten better with is throwing the deep ball. He has made a point to challenge himself and take more chances in that area and is has paid off in training camp.
Prescott completed 38 passes that traveled over 20 yards through the air last season. He opened the game with a 23-yard pass to Dez Bryant and then threw a 32-yard, back-shoulder throw to Bryant for a touchdown.
Bryant finished with two catches for 55 yards as he tries to regain his 2014 All-Pro form after two injury-plagued seasons.
"I don't know if I can honestly put it into words just how much better of a player (Bryant) is, and we were just talking about how good his body feels," Prescott said.
"He's just a much better player right now than what he was last year at this time. Our chemistry is growing, so it's fun."
The chemistry has grown because they have a great relationship. Prescott is the leader and Bryant follows.
But there is an open line of communication in their second year together, born out of a friendship forged last season when Bryant was one Prescott's most vocal supporters during the brief talk of a quarterback controversy with supplanted starter Tony Romo.
What's also key is that Bryant had a healthy offseason and training camp for the first time since before the 2014 season, so he's also in the best shape he has been in a long time. He missed the offseason in a contract dispute before the 2015 season and was recovering from a foot surgery before the 2016 season.
"He has been healthy all offseason, so that chemistry has grown," Prescott said. "He's been a guy that his ears are wide open, wanting to know what I'm thinking, and I want to know what he's thinking. It's just been back and forth of just talking and doing it out there on the field, and it's only growing."
"Dez is a guy that you just give him a chance one-on-one. Film study helps, but more importantly those reps we've had in practice all camp long probably have been more valuable to us."
Prescott said Bryant is the most improved player on the team and is playing the best football of his career. That says a lot considering Bryant had three straight seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving from 2012-2014, when he caught 273 passes and scored 41 touchdowns.
Bryant caught 81 passes and scored 11 touchdowns the last two injury-plagued seasons.
"To me, it's the best Dez has been," Prescott said. "Somebody asked me the other day who I think the most improved player is and I said Dez, just the way he's been taking care of his body, his effort, his attitude. Everything from last year to this year, it's just exciting to throw him the ball and watch what he can do after the catch."
NOTES: WR Ryan Switzer, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, got limited work on Monday. ... LB Sean Lee returned to practice on Monday after missing the last two games because of a tight hamstring. ... DT Cedric Thornton has missed the first two preseason games because of a hamstring injury and remains sidelined. ... CB Jourdan Lewis remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury. He has yet to play in the preseason. ... QB Kellen Moore's continued poor play in the preseason is starting to become an area of concern. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 131 yards with a quarterback rating of 67.8 in a 24-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium Saturday night. He also had a fumble on a sack that was recovered for a touchdown. It was a continuation of Moore's struggles since the start of the preseason. He completed 8 of 17 passes for 69 yards against the Los Angeles Rams the previous week. ... LB Jaylon Smith made his professional debut against the Colts on Saturday, playing only 12 snaps. But he made a third down stop for his first tackle in 596 days. Smith endured a long journey back to football. He was out of game action for almost 19 months after sustaining a severe knee injury in Notre Dame's bowl game on Jan. 1, 2016. Smith tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee. Damage to the peroneal nerve was more problematic. ... RB Rod Smith is not only making a bid for the roster but also for meaningful playoff time in the absence of Ezekiel Elliott. Smith averaged more than seven yards per carry against the Colts last Saturday, finishing with 53 rushing yards on seven carries, and also had three catches for 27 yards. In the Cowboys' first two preseason games, Smith combined for 19 carries for 66 yards and four catches for 30 yards.