One day after declaring right tackle Terence Steele was moved to the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Dallas Cowboys lost another headline name during their preparation to take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 13. Mike McCarthy has tested positive for COVID-19, sources confirm to CBS Sports, and will not travel with the Cowboys to New Orleans this week. McCarthy is vaccinated, but it's unclear if he has symptoms and he would have to both be without symptoms and produce two negative tests in a 24-hour period thereafter in order to return to the team.
Given the timeframe in which he'd had to achieve these this week -- the Cowboys and Saints set to square off on Thursday night with the former traveling on Wednesday -- it's simply a hill McCarthy won't be able to climb in time.
McCarthy is the latest in the Cowboys organization to miss a game due to COVID-19, with four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper returning on Monday after missing two games after testing positive, the aforementioned absence to come for Steele, and other recent additions to the reserve/COVID-19 list that include offensive line coach Joe Philbin and his assistants.
"Although he will not be on the field for the Saints game, McCarthy will continue to direct, and be involved in, all meetings and game preparations on a virtual basis for the remainder of the wee -- including Thursday's meetings in New Orleans," said the team in an official press release on Monday.
The Cowboys will move forward with their plan to hold practice, but meetings will continue to be virtual, as they were on Sunday, and they will continue to test everyone daily for COVID-19. As far as who'll likely take on the head coaching duties in McCarthy's absence, the popular thought would be either offensive coordinator Kellen Moore or defensive coordinator Dan Quinn -- with other options like quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier available to step up -- but the more likely option would be to toss the keys to assistant head coach Rob Davis.
After all, his title puts him in line to step in during a situation such as this. Davis is a former Director of Player Development for the Green Bay Packers in McCarthy's tenure there, and was brought into Dallas when McCarthy took the reins from Jason Garrett in 2020. Should he be given the nod for Thursday night, it will allow Moore, Quinn and other position coaches to focus on doing what they've been doing with no disruption.
Notable Cowboys players who have missed time in 2021 due to COVID-19 include Cooper, Zack Martin, Randy Gregory, Keanu Neal, Greg Zuerlein, Bradlee Anae, Brandon Knight and now Steele. Coaches who have missed time include Philbin, Jeff Blasko (assistant O-line coach), Scott Tolzien (offensive assistant), Cedric Smith (strength and conditioning assistant), Kendall Smith (strength and conditioning assistant), Harold Nash Jr. (strength and conditioning coordinator) and now McCarthy.
As for the growing number of COVID-19 cases within the Cowboys organization, sources tell CBS Sports there may be more over the next few days following the Thanksgiving holiday, but the hope is things begin to cool down in that regard, and quickly, for a team trying desperately to right the ship after losing three of their last four games.