It will be a busy week for NFL teams as every single one of them has to drop down from 85 to 80 players by 4 PM ET on Tuesday.
Things have already been busy for the Dallas Cowboys as they begin preparations for their final preseason game of the year. Last week’s got off to a bumpy start when it was reported that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive lineman Carlos Watkins left AT&T Stadium out of “an abundance of caution” with regards to COVID-19 list. This served as a stark reminder of the reality that we are all still living in.
While that happened on gameday, it was revealed on Monday that the Cowboys have three additional people in the COVID-19 protocol. Mike McCarthy was dodgy about naming names during his press conference, but as it ended the names were reported. They are CeeDee Lamb, Malik Hooker, and Israel Mukuamu.
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb, S Malik Hooker and rookie S Israel Mukuamu are the three players added to COVID-19 protocol.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 23, 2021
There are still 17 days until the regular season begins so there is no need to panic. McCarthy mentioned that the team operated in a virtual way on Monday so the Cowboys are doing their part to follow protocols as an entire team. We will see what the rest of this week has in store.
While the health and safety of those involved is paramount, an important distinction here is that with these four players on the COVID-19 reserve list the Cowboys only need to move on from one player to get down to 80 by Tuesday.
Cooper Rush will take first-team reps at quarterback this week
On the subject of football, Mike McCarthy mentioned that there will be a notable change this week in practice. Cooper Rush is going to be taking the first-team reps.
Garrett Gilbert has operated as the team’s QB2 (so taking first-team reps with Dak Prescott sidelined) up to this point, but he has really struggled through the preseason so far. He was pulled from last week’s preseason game after two drives and replaced by Cooper Rush, someone who has actually been QB2 for this team before, who played rather well.
After what was easily the best quarterback performance that any Cowboys signal-caller has had this preseason last week against the Houston Texans, Cooper Rush has seemingly been rewarded.
McCarthy was specific to note that the only thing that has been decided right now is that Rush will take first-team reps during practice. It remains to be seen who will “start” for Dallas this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but this feels like a notable shift in the team’s approach to the position and a potential indication that Rush has the inside track for the job.
While he has looked better than Gilbert, Rush is also the only Cowboys quarterback who has even looked competent through three exhibition games so far. Ben DiNucci was already on the outside looking in when it comes to the roster in general and threw three interceptions against Houston on Saturday night.
It’s Cooper Rush’s time to shine. Unless the Cowboys want to look somewhere else for a potential backup quarterback. Maybe they should.