The Cowboys will be without a significant part of their offense when they open the 2021 season Thursday night against the defending champion Buccaneers in Tampa. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Sunday that the team's former Pro Bowl right guard has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list.
With Martin out, Connor McGovern is slated to fill his spot on the Cowboys' offensive line. A fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft, McGovern made eight starts in 14 games last season while filling in for Martin, who dealt with a concussion and a calf injury during the season. The Cowboys started the day with just three guard on their roster. The other guard, Matt Farniok, is a 2021 seventh-round pick who has never appeared in a regular season game.
Dallas' offensive line will have its hands full on Thursday night. The Buccaneers' defensive line has several prominent players including nose tackle Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and William Gholston. Suh is hoping to come off of the team's reserve/COVID-19 list in time for Thursday night's game.
"Zack's our best player on our offense," running back Ezekiel Elliott told ESPN. "I mean most runs, they coming back behind him. It's disappointing but you can't harp on it, can't let it be more than what it is. I mean, (we're) definitely going to miss him, definitely wish he was out there, but we still have a game to go play and we got to try and get the job done."
The Cowboys did receive some positive news on Sunday, as right tackle La'el Collins is returning to practice after dealing with a neck injury. Injuries, particularly on the offensive line, were among the reasons why the Cowboys won just six games during McCarthy's first season in Dallas.
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