Whether Dallas Cowboys star receiver Amari Cooper will play against the New Orleans Saints depends on who you listen to in the days leading up to game day. Hours after owner Jerry Jones indicated Cooper would suit up against the Saints, head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that the receiver is still feeling the effects of COVID. During a media call, McCarthy indicated that if Cooper does not practice on December 1 he will likely miss the Cowboys primetime matchup against the Saints.
“Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (COVID-19) is back in building but ‘still not feeling the best,’ coach Mike McCarthy said,” Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken tweeted on November 30. “Still has a cough. ‘To be determined’ whether he’ll practice today. ‘My gut would be if he doesn’t practice tomorrow, I don’t see him going to the game.'”
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Jones on Cooper: ‘We’re Fully Expecting Him to be Ready by Game Time’
If you only listened to Jones, you would expect to see Cooper play against the Saints. Jones emphasized the team is “fully expecting” to see Cooper on the field. That said, McCarthy painted much more of a grim picture of Cooper’s status, especially given he is still experiencing the effects from the virus.
“As much as anything, it would be a conditioning thing [why Cooper didn’t practice on November 29], easing him in, but he’s in all of the preparation, other than what you saw him not do at practice,” Jones told Dallas 105.3 the Fan during a November 30 interview. “But he’ll step that up today, and we’re fully expecting him to be ready by game time.”
Jones Has Been Critical of Cooper’s Decision to be Unvaccinated
After Cooper tested positive for COVID-19, Jones did not hold back about his frustration with the receiver’s unvaccinated status. Heading into the season, Jones was vocal about his desire for all of the Cowboys players to be vaccinated.
“Again, I said it early, you check ‘me’ at the door in a football team,” Jones explained during his November 23 radio appearance. “That has nothing to do with the issues of masking, not masking, getting vaccinated, not getting vaccinated, and if I have a tone I shouldn’t. It just has nothing to do with it. The facts are it is a ‘we thing’ when you walk into the locker room and anybody is being counted on to pull his weight. Everybody expects that, they look around at each other. They understand everybody’s rights, they do, we do, everybody understands our rights and our options as it pertains to those rights.
“But can you, if you forget that it’s a we thing and how important your part is. Obviously, these guys are rewarded, they’re rewarded financially. Now, Amari Cooper is outstanding, folks. He’s one of the highest character guys that you will ever be around in any area. …Nobody is saying that he isn’t outstanding but this is a classic case of how it can impact a team when people are, at the end of the day, this is not individual, it is team. You cannot win anything individually. So, all of that are statements that I know everybody has heard ’til they’re blue in the face, but the point is that this popped us. This did pop us.”