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Cowboys news: Reinforcements on the way at wide receiver against Saints

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New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Struggling Cowboys offense gets timely boost with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb’s return vs. Saints - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News

There’s no way to sugarcoat it; Cooper and Lamb’s returns are coming at just the right moment for the Cowboys offense, which has struggled to find any sort of rhythm in recent weeks.

The Cowboys have lost three of four games and enter the Saints game trying to fix what ails them.

“It’s very urgent,” Prescott said of the state of the team. “This is a team that’s hungry and that’s pissed off simply about the way that we’ve executed and the way we’ve played. It’s about us looking in the mirror and checking us first and foremost, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Cooper’s return also coincides with fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb’s expected appearance in the Cowboys lineup. Lamb missed the Thanksgiving Day game, an overtime loss to Las Vegas, with a concussion.

However, backup wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who had seven catches for 104 yards against Las Vegas, was ruled out against the Saints with an ankle injury. Another backup receiver/special teams player Malik Turner is questionable with an illness. Turner did not practice Wednesday.

No excuses for reeling and COVID-ravaged Dallas Cowboys, they must beat the Saints - Clarence E. Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Cowboys’ rough patch hasn’t slowed down in recent weeks, but a team that’s lost three out of four contests no longer has the luxury of excuses. It’s time to put up or shut up against a squad on a four-game losing streak in New Orleans.

...they would be buoyed by the return of their top two receivers, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, from COVID-19 and injury. But that was before the Cowboys’ clubhouse became a cluster of coronavirus, with an outbreak that has sidelined seven coaches, including head coach Mike McCarthy, and two players, led by right tackle Terence Steele. McCarthy is the third head coach this season to miss a game due to COVID-19, joining Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals and Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears.

And while Cooper will play on Thursday, he’ll be doing so with just one day of a limited practice under his belt. He had lingering symptoms on Monday and Tuesday, but he practiced Wednesday and was removed from the NFL’s COVID-19 list before the team boarded the plane to New Orleans. The big questions will be about the number of plays he’ll be able to be in for along with how effective he will be when he’s on the field given how long he’s been away.

Micah Parsons is Cowboys’ key to containing Taysom Hill - Sean Martin, Inside the Star

Taysom Hill hasn’t played much this year, but he’s a quarterback that can do a little bit of everything. One of his greatest strengths, his mobility, will likely factor into Thursday’s game. The good news? The Cowboys have Micah Parsons, and he was designed to handle mobile quarterbacks.

Parsons’ rush ability is hardly affected by where he lines up, using his power and bend to close on quarterbacks with remarkable speed. Paired with DeMarcus Lawrence’s ability to set the edge from the strong side, Parsons seeing more time back at LB could be exactly what the Cowboys need against Hill.

Once Quinn’s defense is at full strength, Parsons can remain a matchup player that complicates the looks opposing offenses get by rushing from multiple spots. A look ahead at their schedule shows how important this versatility will be, with both meetings against Taylor Heinicke and Washington remaining, a road game against Daniel Jones, as well as Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts to end the regular season.

Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints Week 13: Know thy enemy - The Landry Hat, Tyrone Starr

Get know the Saints.

There is little question that 2021 has been a difficult year for the Saints and their fan base. After a blowout win over Green Bay to start the season, that aforementioned loss to Carolina acted as a cooler. New Orleans then handed New England a loss only to turn around and take an L from the lowly New York Giants.

The Saints then righted the ship, stringing together three straight wins, including a nice W over Tampa Bay before the wheels fell off. That win over the Bucs was a costly one as they lost their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, for the season. With backup Taysom Hill already on the shelf due to a concussion and a foot injury, the offense has struggled mightily.

Injuries have really been the story of the Saints’ season. As stated before, Winston has missed the last four games. Star running back Alvin Kamara has missed the last three. Starting left tackle Terron Armstead has missed four games and likely will make it five this week while star receiver Michael Thomas has not played a single snap in 2021.

Gut Feeling: Staff Picks For Cowboys-Saints - Staff, DallasCowboys.com

Prediction time.

Rob Phillips: There are parallels to the Chiefs game regarding the challenges the Cowboys’ offense will face Thursday night — namely insane crowd noise and a disruptive Saints front. Factor in Mike McCarthy’s absence this week due to COVID protocols, the team going to virtual meetings all week, etc., and it’s hard to know how this game will play out. Ultimately, because there have been questions lately about the Saints’ ability to manufacture points without Jameis Winston, I’ll take the Cowboys in a close, grimy type of game, something like 23-20. But that’ll also depend on the offense’s ability to sustain drives and keep the defense fresher than they were in the Thanksgiving loss to the Raiders.

David Helman: As someone with a connection to both teams, I’ve always hated picking this game. I especially hate it this year, when this looks like such a toss up between two badly injured teams. The Cowboys once again look like they’re going to be short-handed at receiver, and their head coach is absent, while the Saints have injuries all across their offensive line and elsewhere. Both teams need the long break that comes afterward. I don’t feel good picking Dallas here, given the way they’ve played recently — and especially if Amari Cooper can’t go. And yet, it’s hard for me to justify Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian outplaying Dak Prescott, who should have a healthier offensive line in front of him. I don’t feel good about it, but give me Dak and a couple Dallas takeaways to make the difference in a 20-16 Cowboys win.

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