Cowboys Announce Coaching Shakeup After Week 12 Loss

Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

As the NFL prepares to enhance its COVID-19 measures, the Dallas Cowboys are enduring a coronavirus outbreak amidst Mike McCarthy’s assistant coaching ranks.

McCarthy announced on Sunday, November 28 that Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash, assistant offensive line coach Joe Blasko, and coaching assistant Scott Tolzien have joined offensive line coach Joe Philbin and assistant strength and conditioning coaches Kendall Smith and Cedric Smith in the league’s COVID protocol.

This, coinciding with offensive tackle Terence Steele’s placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, knocking him — as well as the above — out for Thursday’s road game at New Orleans.

“Yes, I’ll start with the COVID protocol, we’ve had some positive tests,” McCarthy revealed during his press conference, before naming the afflicted. … “So, we’re working through that. That’s where we are.”

The Cowboys returned to The Star on Sunday following their Thanksgiving Day loss to Las Vegas. The team conducted a light practice under intensified mitigation efforts, McCarthy detailed, to prevent further spread of the virus.

“After a morning of COVID-19 testing and breakfast-to-go pickups, Cowboys players will begin virtual meetings at noon, coach Mike McCarthy said. Meetings end at 3:15,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. “While masked, players arrive at Ford Center at The Star for a 4:15-5:30 p.m. practice. Similar format on Monday.”

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Coaching Replacements

While it’s unclear who will fill Nash’s shoes among the training staff, McCarthy provided more information on potential substitutes for Philbin and Blasko, tasked with coaching the Cowboys’ offensive line in Week 13. He specifically mentioned tight ends coach Lunda Wells, offensive quality control coach Chase Haslett, and consultant Ben McAdoo.

Wells — who began his coaching career as an offensive line assistant at LSU and from 2013-17 served as the New York Giants’ assistant OL coach — appears to be leading the charge.

“He has an offensive line background … dialed into the run game,” Cowboys right guard Zack Martin said Sunday, November 28, via beat reporter Brianna Dix. “Keeping the O-Line room in check.”

Dallas’ front-five surrendered one sack and five quarterback hits to the Raiders amid Thursday’s 36-33 overtime defeat. The line’s next test comes against a 5-6 Saints defense that ranks 12th in both total yards and points allowed, and 16th in sacks.

Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are entrenched at left tackle and right tackle, respectively, with Steele sidelined.

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Amari Expected to Play in New Orleans

Following a two-game absence on the COVID-19 list, Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is expected to practice Monday, McCarthy announced. And barring any setbacks related to his conditioning, the former Pro Bowler will be activated for Thursday’s NFC showdown.

“We’ll work him back in and see where he is as far as conditioning,” McCarthy said, via the official team website.

Cooper ranks second on the club with 583 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 44 catches. Dallas’ leading wideout, CeeDee Lamb, is also likely to play after missing Week 12 due to a concussion.

Having cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol, Lamb went through a “full workday” during Sunday’s “light” practice, per McCarthy.


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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL


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