Nov 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson (6) breaks up a pass intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys S Donovan Wilson (illness) expected to rejoin team

The Dallas Cowboys’ secondary received good and bad news ahead of Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia.

Safety Donovan Wilson, who did not travel with the team Friday due to an illness, reportedly tested negative for COVID-19 and was expected to rejoin the Cowboys (11-5) in time to face the Eagles (9-7).

Reserve safety Darian Thompson, however, reportedly tested positive and will not make the trip.

Wilson, 26, has played in eight games (three starts) this season and has 26 tackles and one pass defensed.

Thompson, 28, has appeared in five games and contributed three tackles.

The Cowboys, already playing without starting safety Jayron Kearse (hamstring), planned to call up rookie safety Tyler Coyle from the practice squad, ESPN reported.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates a sack in the second quarter against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys LB Micah Parsons enters COVID protocol

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons entered the COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, jeopardizing his shot at an NFL record this Saturday night.

The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite has 13 sacks heading into the Week 18 finale at Philadelphia, two shy of breaking the rookie record set by the Tennessee Titans’ Jevon Kearse with 14.5 in 1999.

Parsons, 22, was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

He has started all 16 games for the NFC East champion Cowboys (11-5) and has 84 tackles, 30 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles. He is tied with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt for the NFL lead with 20 tackles for loss.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) returns an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott highlights Cowboys’ onslaught vs. Washington

Dak Prescott threw for 330 yards and four touchdown passes to lead the host Dallas Cowboys past the Washington Football Team, 56-14, Sunday night in Arlington, Texas.

Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns, one on a run and the other on a reception. DeMarcus Lawrence added a deft interception and nimble 40-yard return for another score as Dallas (11-4) beat Washington (6-9) for the second time in 15 days, pushing its NFC East rival to the brink of elimination from the postseason.

After clinching the division title earlier in the day, there was no letup in the Cowboys as they scored touchdowns on five straight possessions in the first half. Those scores, combined with Lawrence’s pick-six on a pass that he tipped and hauled in at the line of scrimmage, gave Dallas a 42-7 lead at the break. The output tied a team record for the most points scored in a half.

In the third quarter, Dallas increased its lead as Corey Clement blocked a punt and Chauncey Golston gathered the ball on a waist-high bounce in the end zone. Cowboys backup quarterback Cooper Rush added a 9-yard touchdown pass to Malik Turner.

The Cowboys finished with 497 yards, with 389 coming in the first half. Five days earlier, Washington’s defense surrendered 519 yards in a 27-17 loss at Philadelphia. On Sunday, the frustration boiled over on the Washington sideline as Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Allen threw a punch at fellow lineman Daron Payne.

Prescott completed all but one of his first 21 passes and finished 28 of 39 before retiring to the sideline in the third quarter. Amari Cooper had seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 13-yard reception with five seconds left in the first half. Dalton Schultz caught eight balls for 82 yards and a score. Even lineman Terence Steele got into the act, catching a 1-yard touchdown pass on a tackle-eligible play.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Tyler Heinicke faced a swarming Cowboys defense that sacked him four times and limited Washington to 257 yards. Heinicke completed 7 of 22 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Trevon Diggs picked off Heinicke’s first pass of the night for his league-leading 11th interception this year.

–Field Level Media

Cowboys can clinch NFC East with win over Washington

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a victory when they host the Washington Football Team on Sunday night.

Dallas (10-4) has a three-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) in the division race. The Cowboys are one of five NFC teams with at least 10 wins, so playoff seeding is very much part of the equation over the final three weeks of the regular season.

“I mean we all pay attention to it, but I just think it’s a waste of time just to go back and forth on it,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of analyzing different scenarios. “We’re at 10 wins, and we clearly understand what 11 wins gives us. We understand what the records are in front of us. We’ll watch it like everybody else.”

The Cowboys have won three straight games after a rough November in which they lost three of four contests.

Dallas has allowed an average of 14.3 points during the winning streak, which includes last Sunday’s 21-6 road win over the New York Giants.

The Cowboys forced four turnovers on a day in which they scored just two offensive touchdowns.

Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown just five touchdown passes over the past five games after tossing 20 over his first eight appearances.

He indicated he isn’t concerned even though the offense isn’t clicking the way it did earlier in the season. The best example of that is a four-game stretch in which the Cowboys averaged 39 points.

“When we get back to putting up points the way we want to put them up and not just settling for field goals, (we’ll have) some large wins,” Prescott said.

“But it takes playing together, playing complementary football, rewarding those guys on defense with touchdowns when they’re getting those turnovers, and peaking at the right time is the most important.”

Dallas notched a 27-20 road win over Washington on Dec. 12.

That result was the first of two straight losses for Washington (6-8), which faces long odds of getting into the playoffs after dropping a 27-17 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday night.

The Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints, all 7-7, are tied for the seventh and final NFC wild-card spot. Washington and the Atlanta Falcons are 6-8.

The game against the Eagles was pushed back two days due to a COVID-19 outbreak that hit Washington. Standout guard Brandon Scherff, starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke and backup signal caller Brandon Allen were among the players who missed the game.

Garrett Gilbert was plucked away from the practice squad of the New England Patriots last Friday and served as the starting quarterback. The 30-year-old fared well under the circumstances, completing 20 of 31 passes for 194 yards.

“Obviously, a little bit of a whirlwind. Less than ideal circumstances for all of the guys in there,” Gilbert said. “Speaking for the offense, I was very proud of the way everyone fought. We didn’t get the result we wanted, and obviously that is tough.

“Every game is important this time of year, but I was really proud of our group for fighting through everything that we faced this week and giving ourselves a chance.”

Top receiver Terry McLaurin sounded like someone who would be fine taking the field with Gilbert again if Heinicke and Allen remain unavailable.

“I have nothing but respect for Garrett,” said McLaurin, who has 63 receptions for 859 yards. “For a guy to come from another practice squad to a team where you don’t know anybody — to come here midweek and be expected to not only start at quarterback but to help us try to get into the playoffs, it’s nothing but respect for him.”

Washington leading rusher Antonio Gibson (862 yards) missed practice Wednesday with a toe injury. He had just 26 yards on 15 carries in Tuesday’s game.
Safety Landon Collins (foot) also sat out practice for Washington.

Two-time All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) sat out for the Cowboys, who have won 11 of the past 16 meetings against their longtime rivals.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) hands the ball off to Cowboys running back Corey Clement (32) against the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys can move closer to clinching NFC East vs. Giants

The Dallas Cowboys routinely have taken the New York Giants to task in their recent encounters.

Should the Cowboys (9-4) record their ninth win in the last 10 meetings with the Giants (4-9) on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., they’ll give themselves a chance to wrap up the NFC East title.

Dallas, which posted a 44-20 victory over New York on Oct. 10, can clinch the division title with a win on Sunday and a tie between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys can also capture the NFC East with a win and a loss by Washington as well as a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Eagles.

While the strength-of-victory tiebreaker involves a complicated formula, the more pressing math for the Cowboys involves the health of their two primary running backs. Ezekiel Elliott said he had no issue with his ailing knee after rushing 12 times for 45 yards in Dallas’ 27-20 victory over Washington on Sunday, a game in which fellow running back Tony Pollard sat out with a foot injury.

“I thought Zeke came out of that game good. His communication has been that he’s ready to go,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Elliott. “If we were having a full-blown Wednesday practice, I would say he’d be in a full capacity.”

Elliott rushed for 110 yards with two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the previous meeting with New York, while Pollard rolled up 103 scrimmage yards (75 rushing, 28 receiving) on that day. McCarthy initially said that Pollard would be limited in practice on Wednesday, however the latter joined left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) in failing to participate.

Smith is expected to miss his fourth game of the season on Sunday.

The lingering question of the health of Dak Prescott continues to circle around the Cowboys. Prescott has been limited to just two touchdown passes and three interceptions during Dallas’ two-game winning streak.

Taken a step further, Prescott is averaging 261.3 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns and six picks in his last six games since returning from a calf injury after averaging 302.2 yards with 16 TDs and four interceptions in his previous six. Included in the earlier stretch is a 302-yard performance with three touchdowns in the encounter with the Giants.

“I don’t want to say (it’s a) slump, but that’s probably fair,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of Prescott’s recent play on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “But it’s such a multifaceted evaluation that I would say our offense is definitely away from where we were playing five and six games ago from the standpoint of production. … Yes, he is (healthy). He’ll figure it out.”

The Giants likely will figure on Mike Glennon starting a third straight game with fellow quarterback Daniel Jones nursing a neck injury. Glennon threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in New York’s 37-21 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday.

“Mike is going to start the game for us,” Giants coach Joe Judge said Wednesday. “This isn’t being coy or anything. Every player who’s at the game can play, and we have plans for every player within a role of what they would do. Do we have anything bracketed out at this point in terms of is (backup Jake Fromm) going to play certain plays or anything? We do not. We do not, so we’re getting Mike ready to play the game, but Jake will also be getting ready and preparing to play the game.”

The availability of running back Saquon Barkley is in question after he missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury. Cornerback Adoree Jackson (quadriceps), guard Ben Bredeson (ankle), kicker Graham Gano (illness) and defensive lineman Austin Johnson (foot) also did not practice Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) return the kickoff in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard (foot) out Sunday

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard was ruled out for Sunday’s game at Washington due to a foot injury.

He did not practice all week and was listed as questionable after suffering a torn plantar fascia in his left foot in the Week 13 win at New Orleans.

The Cowboys (8-4) elevated running back JaQuan Hardy from the practice squad for Sunday’s NFC East showdown with the Washington Football Team (6-6).

Pollard, 24, ranks second on the team in rushing yards (602) behind Ezekiel Elliott (765). He is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns in addition to 31 catches for 259 yards.

Pollard also averages 28.8 yards per kickoff return, including a 100-yard touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving Day.

Other inactive players for the Cowboys included tight end Sean McKeon, defensive end Azur Kamara, safety Israel Mukuamu, wide receiver Simi Fehoko, guard/center Matt Farniok and quarterback Will Grier.

For Washington, inactive players included running back J.D. McKissic (concussion) as well as cornerback Corn Elder, linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk and wide receivers Dax Milne and Antonio Gandy-Golden.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) celebrates at the end of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First-place Cowboys visit Washington, winners of 4 straight

Here comes the Washington Football Team.

Those words have rarely struck fear into NFL teams. But there is some precedent to heed them, at least in December.

Since 2000, Washington has made five playoff appearances. In each of those seasons, the team entered December with a losing record before going a combined 21-4 the rest of the way.

Is Washington (6-6) destined to repeat the script this year? If so, it will have to survive NFC East-leading Dallas (8-4). The teams meet two of the next three Sundays, starting this weekend in Landover, Md.

A month ago at 2-6 and facing a game against the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, the team appeared on the road to nowhere. But Washington clipped Tampa Bay to trigger a four-game winning streak and rekindle its playoff hopes.

“At this point now we control our own destiny,” coach Ron Rivera said. “You gotta go out and do it yourself. I’ve been in this situation a few times so I kind of know what it feels like. I know what it’s going to take from our players.”

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has keyed the surge with a passer rating of 110 over the last four games. The previous four games, all losses, his figure was 68.

The defense also has risen, yielding an average of 286.7 yards during the winning streak, compared with 361.3 during the four-game skid. The success has come despite the absence of defensive ends Montez Sweat (broken jaw) and Chase Young (torn ACL).

“You’re seeing that middle push have some success,” Rivera said. “You’re seeing those guys on the edge getting a little more pressure. Why? Because they’re getting single (blocked) now. That’s been to our benefit.”

Sweat was due to return this week but the team placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tight end Logan Thomas, who made a sensational one-handed touchdown catch in Sunday’s 17-15 win at Las Vegas, is back on the reserve/injured list for the second time this year. Washington also picked up running back Jonathan Williams from the practice squad of the Giants.

There are other injury concerns as linebacker Jamin Davis entered concussion protocol. Guard Wes Schweitzer (ankle), safety Landon Collins (foot), and running back J.D. McKissick (concussion) all missed at least one practice this week, while several others were limited.

Earlier this week, the team said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would undergo season-ending hip surgery.

With a win on Sunday, Dallas can take a giant step toward clinching the division as it would open up a three-game lead on Washington and idle Philadelphia (6-7) with four games left.

The Cowboys are looking forward to potentially getting their three pass-rushing standouts on the field together. DeMarcus Lawrence returned from the IR last week after missing 10 games. Randy Gregory was back at practice this week off his IR stint and could be activated Sunday. They combine with rookie linebacker Micah Parsons to form an intimidating trio.

“Three-headed monster,” Parsons said. “It’s going to be exciting to play all together but I think that’s the great part about having a good practice week. You’ve got an opportunity to learn how to all play with each other.”

Dallas has a new injury concern as running back Tony Pollard (foot) did not practice on Wednesday. Starting back Ezekiel Elliott (knee) was a full participant.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) in action during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cowboys WR Amari Cooper to return Thursday night

Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper will travel with the team to New Orleans on Wednesday and play against the Saints on Thursday night, ESPN reported.

Cooper, who is not vaccinated, missed the last two games — both losses — after testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

Earlier reports Tuesday suggested that Cooper was still experiencing symptoms and was in danger of missing a third game.

Cooper, 27, has 44 receptions for 583 yards and five touchdowns in nine games this season. In 50 games since joining Dallas in October 2018, he has 268 catches for 3,611 yards and 24 touchdowns.

The Cowboys (7-4) have been dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that saw a 13th person enter protocols on Tuesday.

Head coach Mike McCarthy tested positive and will not make the trip to New Orleans, with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn serving as acting head coach against the Saints (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) gestures on the line of scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys, Saints meet in matchup of short-handed teams

The Dallas Cowboys have seen their lead in the NFC East shrink and they’re battling COVID-19 issues.

The New Orleans Saints are sliding down the NFC wild-card standings and they’re battling a bunch of injuries.

The short-handed and struggling teams will meet Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Cowboys (7-4), whose 3 1/2-game lead in the division has shrunk to two games after a 1-3 stretch, won’t have head coach Mike McCarthy on the sideline after he tested positive for COVID.

Defensive coordinator and former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn will be the interim head coach, although McCarthy is participating virtually in meetings and game preparations.

Right tackle Terence Steele, rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright and five assistant coaches, including offensive line coach Joe Philbin and assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko, will miss the game after testing positive for COVID.

The status of wide receiver Amari Cooper, who is unvaccinated and missed the last two games after testing positive, was undetermined, although receiver CeeDee Lamb is expected to return after a one-game absence caused by a concussion. Dallas also expects the return of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who has been sidelined since sustaining a fractured foot before the season’s second game.

“We know what we’re capable of,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We know the team we have. The most important thing is just our belief in each other. That’s not going anywhere. It’s not fading.”

Dallas has rushed for fewer than 100 yards in four of the last five games and it averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the Raiders.

“We’ve obviously been very successful running the football in the first part of the season, so people are gearing up for it,” McCarthy said. “We need to stay on top of our self-scout because I think just like anything at this point in the year people are locked into your formations and your run tendencies and when we run and how we run.”

New Orleans (5-6) is considering starting Taysom Hill at quarterback in hopes of a spark that might end a four-game losing streak.

The last time the Saints won a game was Oct. 31, the day when Jameis Winston sustained a season-ending knee injury against Tampa Bay.

Trevor Siemian has started in Winston’s place while Hill was recovering from a concussion and a foot injury, the latter of which isn’t fully healed although Hill practiced fully on Tuesday.

“It’s no secret that we need to improve in a lot of different areas to put some points on the board,” New Orleans tackle Terron Armstead said. “It’s not just one position group, we have to collectively be better and put more points on the board.”

Armstead and fellow tackle Ryan Ramczyk missed practice Tuesday because of knee injuries. Running back Alvin Kamara practiced on a limited basis after missing the last three games because of a knee ailment.

The Saints have won four consecutive NFC South titles, but their chances of catching first-place Tampa Bay are fading.

“We all get into sudden death once you hit Jan. 5,” Armstead said. “It doesn’t really matter where you play or who you play.

“We’ve been a number one or two seed and exited in the first round, but we’ve also been to the NFC championship, Super Bowl, and all of those good things. We just have to make sure we’re ready for the tournament though, not just sneak in or have some teams lose to let us get in, none of that. We have to put ourselves where we belong.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy tests positive for COVID-19

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is the latest member of the organization to test positive for COVID-19, multiple outlets reported Monday.

The Cowboys placed starting right tackle Terence Steele on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday.

The team said Steele would miss this Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints due to NFL protocols, along with the Cowboys’ offensive line coach, two offensive assistant coaches and two strength and conditioning assistants.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper has missed the past two games in COVID protocols.

McCarthy, 58, is in his second season as the Dallas head coach. His Cowboys (7-4) have lost three of four heading into Thursday’s Week 13 game at New Orleans (5-6).

–Field Level Media