The Cowboys got bad news four days before the season-opening game at Tampa Bay. Pro Bow guard Zack Martin has tested positive for COVID and will miss the game.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott put the loss in context.
“Zack’s our best player on our offense,” Elliott said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “I mean most runs, they coming back behind him. It’s disappointing but you can’t harp on it, can’t let it be more than what it is. I mean, definitely going to miss him, definitely wish he was out there, but we still have a game to go play and we got to try and get the job done.”
Connor McGovern is expected to play if Martin can’t. McGovern started eight games last year, six in place of Martin due to injury.
Although it’s being treated by the Cowboys as essentially a done deal that Martin won’t play, he tested positive on Saturday. If he’s vaccinated, he could in theory be cleared by Thursday.
“We’ll see if he plays or not,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Sunday. “He could get two negative tests and be there.”
For vaccinated players, that’s the rule — two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The Cowboys may regard that as sufficiently unlikely to not even put on the radar screen of possibilities.
More players getting it definitely remains on that radar screen. Receiver CeeDee Lamb had it, and he lost his sense of taste and smell. He suddenly got it back while brushing his teeth.
“I literally stopped and looked in the mirror and was like, ‘Whoa. OK.’ I could taste it again,” Lamb said, via Archer. “It was mint. Imagine not tasting mint for a week and then just understanding like, wow, you really can’t taste anything. It’s real. Take it serious, bro. That’s my message.”
Frankly, if more people had taken it seriously from February 2020 and onward, we probably wouldn’t have to take it seriously now. The league and its teams need to continue to take it seriously. Although it’s highly unlikely that games won’t be played because of it, it’s a definite that teams will be missing key players for key games.
Starting with game number one of 272, it’s already happening.