Amid a wave of COVID-19 cases on his team, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was placed in NFL protocol on Monday and will not travel to New Orleans for Thursday’s game evening at the Saints.
McCarthy said he’s vaccinated; vaccinated staff do not enter the protocol until they test positive.
“While not on the field for the Saints game, McCarthy will continue to lead and participate in all meetings and game preparations on a virtual basis for the remainder of the week, including meetings from Thursday to New Orleans. ”the Cowboys said in a statement.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will replace McCarthy as the main decider for Thursday’s game against the Saints.
On Sunday, McCarthy announced that the Cowboys had added three assistant coaches and right tackle Terence Steele to the reserve / COVID-19 roster on Sunday. Daily tests were implemented and meetings went virtual, with the exception of a walkthrough of about an hour. On Monday, the NFL tested all Level 1 and 2 players and staff – regardless of their immunization status – under improved post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 protocols.
“We’re in a cycle right now,” McCarthy said on a Sunday morning conference call with local reporters. “We pay particular attention to it. ”
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McCarthy was scheduled to hold another call with reporters Monday morning. It was then canceled.
Before news of his latest test result, McCarthy said Monday morning that he had moved to a hotel as a precaution due to the COVID-19 spike the club was experiencing.
“Our players have done a great job taking that extra step,” McCarthy said early Monday morning during his regular appearance on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “Personally, I have moved into a hotel in recent days. Our climate here is that we do the things necessary to give ourselves the best possible chance every week.
“I am confident and convinced that as long as we continue to do this, we will get to where we want to go.”
The Cowboys announced that McCarthy was on protocol shortly after 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday, shortly after canceling his scheduled 10:15 a.m. availability for local reporters.
Offensive Line Coach Joe Philbin, Assistant Offensive Line Coach Jeff Blasko, Offensive Assistant Scott Tolzien, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Harold Nash and Assistant Strength Coach Kendall Smith will also miss. the Saints’ match during the COVID-19 protocol.
Sticky Cowboys coach Lunda Wells stepped in to oversee the offensive line, with offensive quality control coach Chase Haslett guiding the tight ends throughout New Orleans’ game plan. McCarthy said offensive consultant Ben McAdoo, a former Giants head coach, will also participate.
Veteran La’el Collins, starting him before Steele supplants him this season, is expected to start in right tackle. Collins has started 65 games in his career, including 47 of 48 straight tackle games in 2017-19 for the Cowboys. Right guard Zack Martin explained on Sunday how he and Collins are comfortable in tandem after “a ton of reps next to each other.”
Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 19 and subsequently missed the Cowboys’ losses to the Chiefs and Raiders last week. He was eligible to return to Star Monday after his 10-day quarantine. The Cowboys will assess his conditioning and then determine a game plan for Thursday’s game against New Orleans. Receiver CeeDee Lamb, who has missed the Cowboys’ last three halves with a concussion, also tends to come back.
At 7-4, the Cowboys entered a two-game lead to the top of the NFC East race on Sunday, but the gap narrowed with Dallas’ three losses in the past four weeks. The Cowboys will play three straight division games after that trip to New Orleans: Washington, Giants and vs. Washington.
Missing Thursday’s game against the Saints, McCarthy will follow Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals and Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears as the third NFL head coach this season to be forced out of a contest in due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.