Dalton — who remains in concussion protocol and missed Sunday’s game against the Eagles — was not asymptomatic, the Dallas Morning News reported. He’s the first Cowboys player to land on the league’s coronavirus list since July 31.
“When we started the season we knew we were gonna be battling these type of issues week to week, day to day. … Everybody is probably going to deal with this before it’s all said and done. We’ll probably have to deal with it as well,” team VP Stephen Jones prophecized Monday, via The Athletic.
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The designation rules out Dalton for Dallas’ upcoming home contest against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll need to pass a series of tests to gain re-entry into the facility and eventually the starting lineup, assuming he remains with the organization.
“As of early afternoon, Cowboys hadn’t been told to enter intensive protocol after designating Andy Dalton for reserve/COVID-19 list, per source,” USA Today reported Tuesday. “Dalton didn’t travel to Philly but McCarthy said he’d last seen the QB in meetings Saturday.”
With Dalton further sidelined and Dak Prescott done for the year, the Cowboys’ QB depth chart is whittled to seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci, third-stringer Garrett Gilbert, and recently-signed Cooper Rush, who’s currently on the club’s practice squad.
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Rush to Start vs. Steelers?
When the Dalton news broke, most immediately assumed DiNucci would again get the nod despite an uninspiring showing against Philadelphia in which he completed 21-of-40 passes for just 180 scoreless yards and lost two fumbles amid the 23-9 defeat.
The performance drew sharp criticism from Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who picked apart the first-year signal-caller in a Tuesday radio interview.
“I think that it was a lot for him. I think we certainly, as a team, paid the price to have him come in and under those circumstances. And that’s almost trite. It was frankly more than he could handle,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.
This may have been a precursor to a switch under center, hastened by Dalton’s sudden diagnosis. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday the team “is seriously contemplating turning to Rush,” the former longtime Prescott backup who defected to the Giants this offseason and now finds himself back in the silver and blue.
“Cooper is someone that [offensive coordinator] Kellen Moore is fond of. So it’s a natural move to enhance the quarterback room,” head coach Mike McCarthy said of Rush last week, via the Dallas Morning News.
The Cowboys return to practice Wednesday to begin full-scale prep work for the Steelers. How the QB reps are divided will be an indicator as to which lamb — DiNucci or Rush — is the sacrificial starter this week.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL