Dalton Clears Both Protocols; Returns To Practice 

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FRISCO, Texas - Andy Dalton is out of the concussion protocol. He's also off the reserved/Covid-19 list.

With that, the veteran quarterback was back at practice Monday at Ford Center in The Star.

The Cowboys returned from a week off during their much-needed bye week and started preparation for next Sunday's game in Minnesota.

"He was cleared to participate in practice," head coach Mike McCarthy said of Dalton. "He had a good day. We had a mock game type of practice. And he was a full participant."

But even with that, McCarthy wasn't ready to name him the starter against the Vikings.

"I think realistically, we have to get through the whole week of practice," McCarthy said. "He hasn't been involved for a couple of weeks now. He looked good today. We'll take it one day at a time."

Dalton suffered a concussion on Oct. 25 against Washington when he took a vicious hit while trying to slide. He was knocked out of the game and missed the next week in Philadelphia. The Cowboys started rookie Ben DiNucci in that game but once Dalton was moved to the reserved/Covid-19 list, the Cowboys made another change. Veteran Garrett Gilbert started his first game against the Steelers on Nov. 8 and gave the Cowboys a chance, throwing into the end zone on the final play of a 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh, who improved to 8-0 in that game and remained undefeated on Sunday by beating the Bengals.

Both Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones as well as COO Stephen Jones have reiterated that Dalton would be the starter if he's healthy.

"Andy is (the starter)," Jerry Jones said when asked last week on 105.3 The Fan. "When we signed Andy, I really thought we had arguably the best backup quarterback that I've ever been associated with, and we've had some good ones. But still, to have Andy Dalton as your backup quarterback when in fact Andy is, in my mind, a very legitimate starter."

But to be the starter, Dalton has to get through the week of practice. While he's been cleared from the protocols, McCarthy was asked about Dalton's conditioning, having been out for two weeks.

"Great question. I think it's something he hit over the weekend," McCarthy said. "He's a pro. He's in tune with where he needs to be. It was great to have him in there. He's off to a great start."

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