10 Things From Mike McCarthy's Press Conference


FRISCO, Texas – 10 highlights from head coach Mike McCarthy's daily press conference before the Cowboys start preparing for the Kansas City Chiefs at Wednesday's practice:

  • Left tackle Tyron Smith is expected to return to practice -- on a limited basis, at least -- for the first time in over two weeks. Smith has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
  • Kicker Greg Zuerlein is expected to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. Lirim Hajrullahu handled kicks against the Falcons last Sunday and is back on the practice squad this week.
  • Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore (elbow) are making progress on injured reserve, but they will not start their 21-day practice window Wednesday.
  • In McCarthy's view, the critical point of any play is after 2.3 seconds, because that's statistically when plays start to break down. That's also when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes can be most dangerous. "We have a segment in today's practice to work scramble drills," McCarthy said. "Patrick is outstanding at it. You can see, I think between 20 to 23 percent of their plays are extended plays. It's a major focus for us this weekend."
  • Mahomes' two favorite targets in the passing game happen to be two of the NFL's most explosive players: wide receiver Tyreke Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Together, they've accounted for 13 of Mahomes' 25 touchdowns and over 60% of the Chiefs' 1,602 passing yards. McCarthy said Hill and Kelce are particularly effective getting yards after the catch.
  • Dak Prescott is also having a strong season, and McCarthy credited Prescott's 70.3 completion percentage -- second-best among NFL starters -- within an aggressive scheme. "We're not a dink-and-dunk offense," he said.
  • As always, crowd noise will be a factor at Arrowhead Stadium -- even more than the Cowboys experienced at deafening U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. "I think when we went up to Minnesota it was about 120 decibels where Arrowhead has been to 140," McCarthy said. "Not a lot of our players have played there so just give them a little snippet of what it looks like today and what it sounds like. Noise will be a big part of our preparation this week."
  • The Cowboys' defense is coming off its most productive game of the season, recording three interceptions and holding the Falcons to three points and 1-of-13 on third and fourth down combined. McCarthy said it was the defense's highest grade since he became head coach in 2020. "We want to build off that performance," McCarthy said.
  • Cornerback Anthony Brown had one of those three picks and has played well as a starter this season, but McCarthy has also been impressed with the six-year veteran's leadership. "He was our designated captain to talk before the (Falcons) game. He was outstanding," McCarthy said. "I think everybody really felt him before we went on the field."
  • Is Sunday a measuring stick game for Dallas, even though they enter the week with a 7-2 record? "You're talking about a defending champion here, absolutely," McCarthy said, referencing the Chiefs' AFC title in 2020. "These guys are extremely well-coached. I have great respect for Andy Reid, for the way he's done for it for decades in this league. This is an important game. … It's about getting a road win. I think we know where we are. And I know where they want to go. So you're going to see a clash of two really good football teams Sunday afternoon."

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