Dak Prescott admitted it felt strange to roam the halls of The Star to begin a new week and not hear the unignorable voice of Mike McCarthy. But the star quarterback knows the show must go on without his COVID-positive head coach as the reeling Dallas Cowboys prepare for a Thursday night NFC road clash at New Orleans.
“We’ll miss coach but his health is first and foremost important,” Prescott told reporters by phone on Monday, November 29, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein. “We’ll fight and get everything done that we need to.”
Prescott learned of McCarthy’s absence before news surfaced of the latter’s positive test result and Week 13 rule-out. The Cowboys subsequently enhanced COVID protocols inside its hot-bed training facility; after three strength-and-conditioning coaches contracted the virus, the team closed the weight room and told players to temporarily “find off-site options for massage, physical therapy and maintenance,” Epstein reported.
Prescott himself has taken stricter measures that include increased mask-wearing and undergoing physical therapy at his home rather than his therapist’s office. After this localized outbreak, which also has afflicted the likes of starting wide receiver Amari Cooper and offensive line boss Joe Philbin, there’s no such thing as too careful.
While Prescott and company miss McCarthy’s guidance, and the normalcy that goes along with it, “his health is first and foremost.”
“COVID is for real,” Prescott said Monday, via USA Today. “I see people constantly getting it and contracting it whether they got the vaccine or not. Obviously this isn’t something that we can take light or we can let up on. It’s very real. But we’ve got to do our best to protect ourselves and protecting others around us, obviously washing our hands and doing whatever we can to reduce the chances for us and the people around us from getting it.”
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McCarthy Discusses Interim HC vs. Saints
After restricting movement and physical contact inside the facility, the Cowboys then settled on McCarthy’s replacement for Thursday’s interconference tilt, a choice that boiled down to assistant HC Rob Davis and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
McCarthy ultimately tabbed Quinn to run the show in his stead, citing not only Quinn’s background as the Atlanta Falcons’ head man (2015-2020) but a conscience choice to leave offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and special teams coordinator John Fassel unbothered in their responsibilities.
“He has the head coaching experience of being on the field and has also called the defense and managed the game,” McCarthy said, via USA Today. “Kellen just needs to focus on the offense and calling the game and staying with that. John is also involved in some game management like most special teams coaches are. We have the network up top, so that’s something that won’t change.
“The biggest change is having Dan down on the field and you know, just make sure he’s getting the information he needs to make sound decisions.”
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CeeDee Confirms He’ll Play on TNF
Tried as he did, Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb was unable to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol in time to suit up versus the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving. He was made inactive for the first time in his 26-game career.
Lamb, holding a virtual press conference Monday, confirmed that he’s since shaken off the physical effects of the brain injury and will play Thursday against the Saints. But it seems the 22-year-old is still dealing with emotional remnants of the experience.
“A head injury is nothing to play with,” Lamb said, via the official team website. “Obviously, I wanted to be in there. I wasn’t feeling like myself, kind of something still lingering around. I couldn’t describe what it was and I knew at that moment that I wasn’t mentally nor physically prepared.”