Dak Prescott escapes against a Panthers defender in Cowboys' Week...

Dak Prescott escapes against a Panthers defender in Cowboys' Week 1 loss.  Credit: AP/Jason E. Miczek

Dak Prescott had two words for Landon Collins.

“Challenge accepted.”

Actually he had four words since he said it twice. But the meaning was certainly clear. A day after the Giants’ All-Pro safety said that if the Giants can figure out a way to keep the ball in Prescott’s hands they’ll have “a better shot at winning” Sunday night’s game in Dallas, the Cowboys quarterback spoke to reporters on Thursday and seemed anxious to respond both verbally and on the field.

It’s not outlandish for the Giants to want to take away running back Ekeziel Elliott and force the Cowboys to throw the football to a group of young, unproven receivers. Against the Panthers in the Cowboys’ opener Prescott hit just 19 of 29 passes for 170 yards. It was the seventh game in his last nine dating back to last year that Prescott has thrown for fewer than 200 yards.

That’s just one of the reasons why the Giants are bracing for more Elliott than Prescott (even though they’d like the opposite).

“They’re going to give 21 [Elliott’s jersey number] a bunch of touches, they’re going to find some really creative ways to get him going,” Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher said on Thursday. “They’re going to stretch it hard and cut the ball back, they’re going to give you some gap scheme with some pullers, they’re going to get big personnel on the field, they’re going to run the ball down the field at you. You’re going to get a little bit of everything. They do a nice job with that.”

If the Giants can slow down the running game, then the Cowboys may have no choice but to try to win on Prescott’s arm.

Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher at MetLife Stadium on Aug....

Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 30. Credit: Daniel De Mato

The challenge may have been accepted, but Prescott won’t stop receiving it from the Giants and the rest of the Cowboys’ opponents until the challenge is completed.

Notes & quotes: A visibly distraught Janoris Jenkins left practice early for what the team described as a “family situation.” The starting cornerback was consoled by coach Pat Shurmur before he left the field . . . WR Sterling Shepard (back) returned to practice after he was limited on Wednesday. “He’s fine,” Shurmur said. “Back spasms.” … LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) did not practice and worked on the side with trainers as he did on Wednesday. “He’s going to try to do a little more each day here and we’ll see where he is by the end of the week,” Shurmur said . . .The Giants signed OT Brian Mihalik to the practice squad and parted ways with LB Calvin Munson.

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