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Dallas doesn’t just have a Zack Martin problem for Thursday, they’ve got an offensive line one

Injuries have infiltrated the Cowboys offensive line in more ways than one.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys OTA Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys will (likely) be missing their “best player on offense” as they head into Tampa Bay. Ezekiel Elliott didn’t mince words when describing the magnitude of the hole that’d be left vacant with Zack Martin’s absence.

Martin, who was forced to the shelf after a positive COVID test earlier in the week, has an incredibly low likelihood of suiting up for the squad (he must pass two COVID tests and be symptom-free for 48 hours heading up to game time).

The impact of the loss cannot be stated enough. Martin is an All-Pro caliber stalwart who operates as the heart and soul of the ‘Boys front line. He’s been a fixture in their lineup for years, and hadn’t missed substantial time until a calf ailment kept him out the last six games of 2020.

Martin’s loss is incomparably painful no doubt, but his won’t be the only presence that’s missed — at least at full strength, on Thursday.

Connor Williams was just reinstated from the COVID/reserve list back after battling the virus in late August. He’ll have to make the most of his limited reps after returning to the gridiron Sunday in preparation for a much larger role with Martin sidelined.

And speaking of short prep, La’el Collins’ neck stingers have hampered his health since the beginning of last month, and question marks are buzzing surrounding his ability to be a considerable contributor at the tackle spot. It’s a big blow after the votes of confidence Collins expressed regarding his own status after an injury-riddled 2020.

As far as Martin is concerned, third-year man Connor McGovern will be looking to step into his massive shoes and exercise a seamless transition into the role.

“I’ll be ready to go,” McGovern said about the quick shift.

“You never know when someone’s going to go down or what’s going to happen. And being in a situation like this, you’ve just got to be ready to step up. Last year helped me a lot with confidence, so I’m ready.”

Coach McCarthy echoed that sentiment.

“We will continue to work the combinations, but Connor McGovern will take the majority of the reps at right guard. I mean, this is the climate that we’re in. The great thing is we have experience at it.”

They certainly do. Dallas experimented with 15 different O-line combos during last year’s dissipation, so they know a thing or two about “next man up.” But that isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when the likes of Collins and Martin are the ones having to be replaced, or are not at full strength.

But McCarthy remains confident, and for stress’ sake, so must his team.