KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Cowboys may have come into this season with a wide receiver group that was the envy of the NFL. But coming out of the team's disappointing 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team's receiver situation is looking far more dire, at least in the short term.
Mere days ago it appeared that Sunday's game would be the healthiest their three best receivers would be since the season kicked off in September, with all of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup looking healthy and available for a big matchup. That notion was spoiled when Cooper was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list late on Friday, precluding him from playing against Kansas City.
Then, near the end of the first half, Lamb left the game with what was eventually diagnosed a concussion after trying to come down with a ball in the end zone that was ultimately intercepted.
In Cooper and Lamb's absence, Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson were given increased opportunity, but neither were able to generate any significant offense for the team. Brown didn't record a single reception and both he and Wilson dropped two passes each.
"The drops I had out there, I have to pull the balls in," Wilson said after the game. "That's my job."
Gallup managed 44 yards in the game, but the passing game ultimately floundered with the rest of the offense as Dak Prescott threw for just 216 yards and two interceptions.
"Folks just have to step up," Gallup said after the game. "That's on us. We have to make those plays when they come to us. We didn't make those plays today. That's on us."
The Cowboys will be shorthanded at receiver again as they face a short week and a Thanksgiving matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in just four days. Cooper will not be eligible to play under league rules as it will be just six days after he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Lamb's status is likely going to be up in the air until Thursday, but time is not on the second-year receiver's side. NFL rules dictate that Lamb will have to go through concussion protocol and he will have to pass a number of benchmarks before he is deemed eligible to play.
After the game, Cowboys officials did not rule out the chances of Lamb playing in the game Thursday, but reiterated that he will have to meet the protocol in order to play, something that can be challenging in seven days, much less four.
In the event that the Cowboys will be without both Cooper and Lamb, they will face the Raiders with the same options at receiver that took the field in the second half against Kansas City, namely Gallup, Wilson, and Brown. Another potential option is Malik Turner, who managed to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' blowout loss to Denver in Week 9.
Both Wilson and Brown had promising performances earlier in the season in smaller roles filling in for Gallup who missed seven weeks with a calf strain. They were non-factors against Kansas City, but now that Gallup is back, he still believes in their ability to make plays.
"I've got all the confidence in the world in them," Gallup said after the game. "I've been saying it since Day 1, those are my boys. They've stepped in the whole season. That's what we need to do, so that's what we're going to do."
The Cowboys may need Wilson to be more than the pleasant surprise that he was earlier in the season if they are to be missing two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers. The wide receivers weren't the only problem for Dallas against Kansas City, but for the team to win on Thanksgiving they will need to make more plays.
"I'm ready whenever those guys can't go," Wilson promised after the game. "Sad to see CeeDee go down like that, and the shock with [Cooper being ruled out], but I have to get in there for my team. Whatever they roll with, I'm going in there, and I have to execute."