FRISCO, Texas – Last Wednesday marked 1,000 days since Tony Romo suffered a compression fracture in his L1 vertebra and Dak Prescott became the Cowboys' starting quarterback.
Prescott has gone on to start every game since, 51 total, including playoffs.
He enters his fourth season "as confident and comfortable as I've been."
The former fourth-round pick has quickly elevated himself from battling Jameill Showers for the third-string QB job in 2016 to being one of the faces of the franchise.
His leadership style has grown along the way.
"I've always been vocal," Prescott said. "I can probably say this year I've been more stern. Not necessarily mean, but I expect a lot from these guys, especially guys that have been here. And I want them to expect the same from me.
"I'd be pissed if they weren't calling me out for it, if a guy blows a route or something like that. I'd be mad as hell if they don't call me out for it."
Experience on the field has helped Prescott become comfortable in that role, but so has being around many of the same teammates for the last three years.
"With some guys," he explained, "I'll be like, 'What are you doing? Are you all right? What the hell is going on? You don't do that. You're better than that.'"
"It's simple as that. It's been great. Great response from it."
With time, Prescott's coaches have also been able to gain a better understanding of him. Having three former NFL quarterbacks — head coach Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna — constantly in his ear could get overwhelming.
Prescott, however, says that's not happening.
Some players need coaches constantly on them. Prescott doesn't believe he's that type of player.
"They all know me pretty well and they know I'm very hard on myself," he said. "I know what I'm doing, right or wrong. I go to them and ask questions more than they come to me and say something.
"In college it was the same way. If I did some boneheaded (stuff) maybe my coach would get on me, but for the most part, I think being around me, if you see the way I work or have coached me, then you know how hard I am on myself."
The Cowboys have declined to publicly reveal a pecking order in their hopes of re-signing several key players in the near future. Prescott is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The same is true for star wide receiver Amari Cooper. And then there's Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones, La'el Collins, Jaylon Smith, and the list goes on.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't need to tell reporters. It's clear Prescott is the No. 1 priority. Dallas has made a contract offer and Prescott's representatives have responded with one of their own.
The last thing either side wants are distractions for the franchise quarterback heading into the season.
But if anyone can handle the noise, it's probably Prescott.
He's dealt with criticism from several different angles, the most notable being those who thought Romo should return to being the starter when healthy in 2016. Many in that group continue to struggle with accepting Prescott as the team's QB for the foreseeable future.
"My mom was always one of those people that would say, 'Pull your head out of your (butt) and do this or do that,' so I never really cared too often," Prescott said of the outside noise. "Being where I come from, not having much, you never really care what somebody thought about you or thought about the (clothes) you wore or this or that.
"You just had confidence in whatever you were doing. That's always been a part of me."