The Dallas Cowboys announced Friday that three key players did not travel with the team to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday. Running back Tony Pollard, safety Jayron Kearse, and cornerback Trevon Diggs have been ruled out for the final game of the 2021 regular season. The Cowboys still have 11 players on the COVID-19 list, including linebacker Micah Parsons and tackle Tyron Smith.
Pollard was ruled out as he rehabs a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, suffered in the team’s Week 13 victory over the New Orleans Saints. After missing Week 14, Pollard returned in a limited role. He has 20 rush attempts for 117 yards in the three games since the injury, but was held to only nine yards on three attempts last week against Arizona.
Kearse is dealing with a hamstring injury that had him listed as questionable early in the week. The Week 18 game will be the first and only game Kearse has missed this season. His performance this season has largely been overshadowed by impact players around him, but Kearse leads the team in tackles with 101. He also has two interceptions and a fumble recovery this season.
Diggs’ last interception of the regular season will go down in history, tying Everson Wells’ record from 1981 at 11. Early in the season, Diggs had seven interceptions in six games and was on pace to shatter NFL records. As his targets have dropped, his interceptions have as well. He will fall just three interceptions short of the all-time league record of 14 set by Dick “Night Train” Lane in 1952. Diggs is still three interceptions ahead of New England’s J.C. Jackson for the most this season. The Cowboys report that he has an undisclosed, non-COVID illness.
Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy had said earlier in the week that the game plan was to play starters against Philadelphia regardless of whether the game changed the seeding in the playoffs. Most scenarios will keep Dallas in the fourth seed, while an Eagles victory could give them the sixth seed and significantly alter the possible outcomes of several Sunday games.
In positive news for the Cowboys, tight end Blake Jarwin has been moved to the Designated to Return list and is likely to be available Saturday afternoon. Jarwin has been suffering from a hip injury that happened during the Week 8 victory at Minnesota. Before being injured, Jarwin was becoming an effective element in the Cowboys offensive attack, but he has only been on the field for eight games this season after missing all but one game in 2020.
When the Cowboys take the field, they will also be without safety Donovan Wilson, who reportedly has an undisclosed, non-COVID illness. Wilson has been on-and-off the field this season, cycling in to cover injuries and as part of various defensive packages that the Cowboys run. Wilson played in Week 16 and 17 but did not travel with the team.
In addition to the Cowboys’ 11 players in COVID protocol, the Eagles currently list 13. Some players may have an opportunity to clear testing requirements before the game, but both squads will be missing important players for the final game of the 2021 regular season.