The Dallas Cowboys announced on Sunday, Sept. 5, that All-Pro and All-Star guard Zack Martin has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unavailable for Thursday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Connor McGovern will fill in for Martin. McGovern started in the guard position in eight games last season.
Martin is reported to be a vaccinated player, so the NFL and NFLPA rules dictate that he will be required to miss five days in quarantine. Prior to returning to team activities, Martin must pass two COVID tests taken not less than 24 hours apart.
The Cowboys have now placed nine players on the Reserve/Covid list this preseason, more players than the team held out in 2020 at the height of the global pandemic. Currently, three Cowboys players including Martin are subject to COVID-19 protocols.
Tackle Brandon Knight is listed as a high risk, close contact and remains on the COVID list. Also on the list is wide receiver Noah Brown prior to 80-man roster reductions following the Houston Texans exhibition game.
Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has also been absent from team activities after experiencing symptoms shortly before the preseason Week 2 tilt against Houston.
Quinn said prior to the game versus Jacksonville that he is feeling much better, but still must test negative for COVID twice in 24 hours before returning to the team. Quinn credits the COVID-19 vaccine for contributing to overall mild symptoms he experienced.
Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who was placed on the COVID list at the same time as Brown was cleared to return to the team this week. Lamb opened up about his experiences with the virus, posting on social media that he lost his sense of taste and smell. Lamb said he knew he was improving when he could taste toothpaste again.
“Take it serious, bro. That’s my message,” Lamb posted online.
Martin’s move to Reserveopens a roster spot that allows the Cowboys to re-sign Punter Brian Anger who was waived last week to make room for Connor Williams who returned from COVID-19 protocol last week.
NFL rules allow teams to put players on the COVID list without locking up a roster spot. Once a player returns from the list, they are counted to the 53-man roster which forces shuffling of players. Anger is a vested veteran, allowing the team to cut and re-sign him without exposing the player to the waiver wire.
The Cowboys face a pass rush that is expected to rank as one of the best in the NFL on Thursday. The game will be the first back to action for quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot, who said that Martin was the “best player on offense” after learning about Martin’s Covid designation.
The Thursday night game is a special edition of Sunday Night Football. Thursday Night Football returns in Week 2 of the regular season.