For the first time this season, the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense will be playing at full strength.
The final domino to drop was wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced, and is expected to suit up Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints. Cooper’s return coincides with that of CeeDee Lamb, who will face New Orleans after sitting out Dallas’ Week 12 loss to Las Vegas.
Cooper and Lamb re-join Michael Gallup in the starting WR corps, and a collective that also will feature its anchors up front, left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin.
“If Amari Cooper is indeed able to go tomorrow night, it will be the first time all season that Dak has all three of his receivers, Tyron Smith, and Zack Martin,” NFL Network’s Bobby Belt noted on Wednesday, December 1.
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Latest on Cooper’s Status
The former Pro Bowl wideout tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Cowboys’ Week 11 loss to Kansas City, and due to how the schedule broke, was forced to sit out the last two games. He returned to the team’s practice facility on Monday, November 29 following a mandatory 10-day quarantine period — and the plan was full steam ahead.
“He’s in all of the preparations other than (Monday’s practice) but he’ll step that up today,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday, November 30 on 105.3 The Fan. “We are fully expecting him to be ready by game time.”
Cooper, however, was still battling the remnants of his illness, with head coach Mike McCarthy — who himself contracted the virus and will miss Thursday’s contest at New Orleans — admitting as of Tuesday that Cooper is “still not feeling the best.”
“I think Amari still has a cough so just being smart with that and making sure he’s all the way back, and there will definitely be a conditioning component too that we need to evaluate,” McCarthy said, per the official team website.
Cooper participated in Wednesday’s practice and traveled with the team to the Big Easy. The issue now becomes his football conditioning; how his body re-acclimates to its rigors, and exactly how many snaps he’ll see as a result.
“Cowboys WR Amari Cooper is being activated from the NFL’sReserve/COVID-19 list. He’s expected to play tomorrow against the Saints. The issue now is how much will he be able to play and how effective due a lack of conditioning and a lack of practice. But he’s good to go,” Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reported December 1.
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Wilson Out vs. NO
The news is not all good amid Prescott’s weapon cabinet. On Wednesday, Dallas ruled out WR Cedrick Wilson for Week 13 due to an ankle injury he sustained on Thanksgiving. Wilson made seven catches for 104 yards in that game, handling No. 2 duties opposite Gallup.
With Wilson sidelined, the Cowboys will lean more heavily on Cooper and Lamb while reserves Noah Brown and Malik Turner could see an uptick in reps.
“Look for Noah Brown to handle a the fourth receiver role,” the official team website reported.