FRISCO, Texas – "A crazy three weeks."
That's how Andy Dalton described his recent bout with a concussion and then COVID-19 – a challenging stretch not just for himself but his family, too.
Needless to say, the Cowboys' veteran quarterback is excited to be medically cleared and back on the field. He has practiced fully both days this week in preparation for Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"It was a crazy three weeks for me, but I'm glad to be on the other side of it," he said. "I'm glad to be back with everybody and through those three weeks."
Dalton, the expected fill-in starter for Dak Prescott (Reserve/Injured; ankle) when healthy, suffered a concussion Oct. 25 on a dangerous helmet-to-helmet hit by Washington linebacker Jon Bostic. Dalton did not play the following week at Philadelphia but was feeling much better within a few days. He had hoped to be cleared for the Cowboys' next game Nov. 1 against Pittsburgh.
Then the virus hit.
The 33-year-old isn't sure how he contracted it. He immediately self-quarantined and the Cowboys placed him on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 3. The club officially activated him Wednesday.
"It hit me hard the first day that I had it, and then gradually started feeling better," he said. "By the end of it, I was ready to get out of quarantine and get back up here."
Dalton said he's still regaining his sense of smell and taste. He said his wife and one of their sons also caught the virus a couple of days after he got sick.
Thankfully, everyone is now "healthy and back to normal," he said.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Dalton had a good practice Wednesday, his first actual practice work in over three weeks. Prior to the concussion, Dalton had made four game appearances, including two starts against Arizona and Washington, with 452 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
"I thought he was decisive and threw the ball very well (Wednesday)," McCarthy said before Thursday's practice. "That's the biggest thing. As long as the ball is coming out on time and so forth, I thought he was in rhythm. Andy has excellent command, obviously, of the whole operation."
Dalton was supportive of backups Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert in their spot starts against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively. While in quarantine he communicated with Gilbert through text messages.
Now Dalton can focus on an opponent again. Minnesota (4-5) has won three straight games behind NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook and a solid defense under Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Dalton and Zimmer were with the Bengals organization for three years together previously (2011-13).
Finally, it's back to football after those crazy three weeks.
"It was a little frustrating. You miss the one game because of the concussion, (my) first time dealing with that, and then the COVID, it's like it all kind of hit at once," Dalton said. "I wish I could have been out there. I wish I could have played in the two games that I missed. But it kind of is what it is.
"It's been a great week of practice so far. I feel good about where I'm at and where we're at as a team and moving forward."