The Dallas Cowboys will begin the 2021 regular season this Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it’s been a long two weeks for the organization’s roster.
That’s due to the effect that COVID-19 continues to have on the NFL.
The Cowboys have added nine players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list in the past 16 days, according Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. Six of those individuals (WR CeeDee Lamb, DT Carlos Watkins, S Damontae Kazee, LG Connor Williams, WR Noah Brown, RG Zack Martin) have tested positive and three (S Malik Hooker, S Israel Mukuamu and G/T Brandon Knight) have been close contacts.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn also tested positive for the virus during that time period.
Make that total 9 players in 16 days: Six positive tests (WR CeeDee Lamb, DT Carlos Watkins, S Damontae Kazee, LG Connor Williams, WR Noah Brown, RG Zack Martin) and three close contacts (S Malik Hooker, S Israel Mukuamu and G/T Brandon Knight). DC Dan Quinn also tested positive.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 5, 2021
The news is even worse for Martin, who landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday. The six-time Pro Bowler will be out for the Cowboys opener against the Buccaneers because of the timing of his positive test. Connor McGovern is expected to start at right guard in place of Martin, as he did for six games during the 2020 season.
Thankfully, some of the players that have been put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list have already come back off, signaling that the team is already past the worst of the problem.
The problems that the Cowboys have faced over the last 16 days are a sobering reality for the NFL in 2021. Although a vast majority of the league’s players are vaccinated, breakthrough cases have already emerged over the summer and are expected to continue during the regular season. Dallas might be the first organization to deal with a significant COVID-19 issue this year, but it won’t be the last.
Amidst their roster fluctuation, the Cowboys are preparing to take on the defending champs. They’ll take the field for the first time in 2021 against the Buccaneers on Thursday night at 8:20 p.m. ET.