The Dallas Cowboys will be without starting tackle Terence Steele when the team takes on the New Orleans Saints in the upcoming Thursday Night Football matchup. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that Steele was among the players and coaches that tested positive for COVID-19.
“Yes, I’ll start with the COVID protocol, we’ve had some positive tests,” McCarthy noted during his November 28 press conference. “So, we have [assistant offensive line coach] Jeff Blasko and [offensive line coach] Joe Philbin is on the list now. [Coaching assistant] Scott Tolzien, the three coaches and then also Terence Steele. So, we’re working through that. That’s where we are.”
McCarthy later confirmed that Steele along with the coaches will miss the team’s Week 13 matchup against the Saints. In a bit of good news, star receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are on track to practice leading up to the Thursday Night Football game, a good sign regarding their potential availability. McCarthy declined to reveal Ezekiel Elliott’s status, emphasizing that they would evaluate his health throughout the week.
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The Cowboys Have Been Rotating Offensive Linemen
Steele’s absence continues an unfortunate trend of the Cowboys having a revolving door on the offensive line. At various points in 2021, Dallas has been without La’el Collins and Tyron Smith for significant portions of the season. The Cowboys have taken a unique approach of rotating offensive linemen during games, but the unit struggled against the Chiefs and Raiders in recent weeks.
It will be interesting to see if the news of Steele’s positive test could open up additional playing time for Connor Williams after he was benched in favor of Connor McGovern. Williams and McGovern have been rotating series at guard as Dallas continues to use an unconventional approach with the unit.
As a result of the Cowboys’ recent COVID outbreak, the team has moved to virtual meetings through at least November 29. Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reported that all three strength and conditioning coaches are in the COVID protocol as well.
“Cowboys strength and conditioning coordinator Harold Nash Jr. also tested positive for COVID-19,” Gehlken tweeted on November 28. “So all three strength and conditioning coaches are in protocol: Nash and assistants Kendall Smith and Cedric Smith. Cedric Smith could clear before protocol before Thursday at Saints.”
Collins Will Start in Place of Steele vs. Saints
Gehlken reported that the Cowboys plan to start Collins against the Saints in Steele’s absence. The Steele news is a big blow for the Cowboys as the lineman has been a bright spot for the team this season.
Steele took advantage of moving into the starting lineup after Collins’ suspension and never relinquished control of the gig. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has offered continuous praise of Steele’s play this season.
“He’s really been the most consistent tackle that we’ve had there during training camp, because La’el was in and out quite a bit and the one that I thought, personally, was the guy that could give you the most consistent [play] was Steele,” Jones told 105.3 the Fan in September after the Cowboys’ win over the Chargers in Week 2.