KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Coming off a 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said he’s glad his team has such a quick turnaround by playing on Thanksgiving against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I think the chance to get up and get going again is preferred any time you don’t play as well as you would like,” McCarthy said.
But the quick turn could mean the Cowboys are without their top wide receivers come Thursday.
Amari Cooper will not play against the Raiders, his former team, because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday and as an unvaccinated player cannot return until Nov. 28, at the earliest. And in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, CeeDee Lamb sustained a concussion, meaning he would need to clear protocols in short order to be available.
Lamb has not missed a game in his two years with the Cowboys. Sunday marked the first game Cooper has missed since he joined the team in a 2018 trade from the Raiders.
McCarthy did not have an update on Lamb’s status after the game, but quarterback Dak Prescott said he spoke to the receiver in the locker room.
“He’s going to be OK,” Prescott said. “I didn’t necessarily know what was going on, but that is the nature of this. You have to continue to move on and trust the guys we have. That is what I did. He will be fine. He will be OK.”
But whether he is OK enough for Thursday remains to be seen.
Lamb caught three passes for 14 yards before landing hard on a pass that was intercepted in the end zone late in the second quarter. He walked to the locker room at halftime with head athletic trainer Jim Maurer and was ruled out early in the third quarter.
Lamb leads the Cowboys with 50 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns. Cooper has 44 receptions for 583 yards and five touchdowns. While Cooper’s absence impacted the Cowboys’ offense Sunday, the timing of him landing on the COVID list 48 hours before kickoff was not that big of a deal, according to McCarthy.
“You have particular special plays for particular receivers, but we felt like we had enough time where we didn’t have to change our game plan a whole lot,” McCarthy said.
Prescott defended Cooper’s decision not to get vaccinated.
“It’s unfortunate not having him, but to say ‘the decision he made,’ I mean me [being] vaccinated, I could get out and be out two games, so let’s not try to knock the guy or put the guy down for a personal decision,” Prescott said.
The Cowboys have not had a vaccinated player return inside the 10-day window this season.
Linebacker Keanu Neal, who also was not vaccinated, missed two games earlier this season.
“That’s my teammate, that’s my brother, we’re going to support him,” Prescott said of Cooper. “That’s his decision as I said way back in training camp when you guys asked me this question. So yeah, unfortunate we’re not having him, but I know he’ll come back and be beneficial for us in the late part of the season.”
“I’m ready whenever those guys can’t go,” said Wilson, who had two drops Sunday. “Sad to see CeeDee go down like that, and the shock with Coop, but I have to get in there for my team. Whatever they roll, I’m going in there, and I have to execute.”
Without Lamb and Cooper, Prescott threw for just 216 yards on 28-of-43 passing. He entered the game averaging 8.2 yards per attempt but averaged just 5 against Kansas City. He did not have a completion of more than 10 air yards until the second half.
The Cowboys entered Sunday with the NFL’s top-ranked offense in terms of yards and points per game, but Sunday marked the first game started by Prescott where the Cowboys have not scored a touchdown since Dec. 22, 2019, against the Philadelphia Eagles, a 17-9 loss.
“Not really discouraged but pissed off,” Prescott said. “Pissed when I don’t play well, the team doesn’t play well and the offense doesn’t play well. We had a great opportunity to come out and play against a team that has been in the Super Bowl the last couple of years and prove it to ourselves, prove it to one another what we are capable of. Short week [now], we have to put it past us. We have a stretch ahead. There is a lot we can learn from tonight. This is a resilient team. We are going to continue to fight and get better.”