FRISCO, Texas - The Cowboys are in the middle of arguably their worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years, but when it comes to the health of their players, the team might be in the best shape we've seen in a several weeks.
Now while head coach Mike McCarthy will miss the game, along with perhaps a handful of other assistant coaches and offensive tackle Terence Steele due to Covid, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said he expects a few players to return to action as early as this Thursday. Jones also predicts more help is on the way for the Dec. 12 meeting in Washington, which has just gotten even bigger now that WFT has pulled within two games of the Cowboys in the NFC East.
Amari Cooper, who has missed the last two games on Reserve/Covid and did not practice on Monday, is expected to not only practice in full Tuesday, but be on the field against the Saints in New Orleans.
"He's in all of the preparations other than (Monday's practice) but he'll step that up today and we are fully expecting him to be ready by game time," Jones said on 105.3 "The Fan."
Head coach Mike McCarthy said the team is "being smart" with Cooper, who's still dealing with a cough, "and making sure he's all the way back, and there will definitely be a conditioning component too that we need to evaluate" heading into Thursday.
McCarthy added that Cooper likely would need to participate in Wednesday's final practice of the week in order to be available against the Saints.
If active Thursday, Cooper wouldn't be the only player returning from an absence as fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb (concussion) has practiced and said he will play against the Saints after missing last Thursday's game.
DeMarcus Lawrence, who suffered a broken foot back before the Week 2 game with the Chargers is also ready to finally make his return.
"I think he'll make a big-time difference," Jones said. "Lawrence has had a good week. You'll see him in New Orleans on Thursday. My goodness what a difference a player like that can make. He'll have to get his game going once he gets back in here. But still, a big, big difference."
Jones said "right behind" Lawrence should be Neville Gallimore and Randy Gregory, who could play against Washington.
As for a player who hasn't missed any time but still needs to be mentioned is Ezekiel Elliott, who has managed a knee injury for nearly two months.
Jones said he fully anticipates Zeke playing and starting against the Saints.
"I understand your question," Jones said. "The facts are we expect him to have a serious load against New Orleans."