Dallas Cowboys' virus issues expand as WR CeeDee Lamb joins three teammates on reserve/COVID-19 list

Jori Epstein
USA TODAY
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FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys lasted a month of training camp without confronting COVID-19 challenges.

No longer.

Dallas has placed wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, safeties Israel Mukuamu and Malik Hooker and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is also in COVID-19 protocol.

Lamb is fully vaccinated, a person with knowledge of his vaccination status told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Mukuamu has received both shots but not yet hit the 14-day mark from his last dose to be considered fully vaccinated, a person with knowledge of his status told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity. 

Cowboys WR Ceedee Lamb (88) caught 74 passes as a rookie in 2020.

“Just like most things we do, we’re just being cautious and want to make sure we contain this outbreak and just be smart with that,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Monday afternoon at The Star. “We have enough experience with the virtual format. That’s really what we turned to, our ‘virtual format’ was the exact verbiage I used."

A Cowboys spokesperson said Saturday night that 93% of the team's players had been vaccinated, though the spokesperson did not confirm whether that measure included players who have received doses but not yet hit their incubation period for full vaccination. The Dallas football staff, including Quinn and all coaches, is 100% fully vaccinated, the spokesperson said.

NFL policy stipulates that a vaccinated person who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate until they have tested negative on consecutive PCR tests, 24 hours apart. Should the person develop COVID-19 symptoms, they must also be asymptomatic for 48 hours. An unvaccinated person must isolate for 10 days after testing positive. A vaccinated person exposed to COVID-19 in close contact must test negative for eight days but can be present if asymptomatic. An unvaccinated player exposed to COVID-19 as a high-risk close contact must remain isolated for five days regardless of test status. 

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It was roughly 90 minutes before kicking off a preseason game against the Houston Texans on Saturday night that Quinn and Watkins were sent home for what the Cowboys described as “an abundance of caution” related to COVID-19. Defensive backs coach Joe Whitt called the game in Quinn’s place.

Sunday, Cowboys coaches met virtually, McCarthy said. Monday’s player meetings were conducted virtually as well. 

NFL teams are required to trim their rosters from 85 to 80 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. With four players on the COVID-19 reserve, the Cowboys only have to trim their roster by one player, McCarthy said. Subsequent cuts would be required before a player on reserve could be reactivated. 

McCarthy said messaging about COVID-19 has been “constant” from his staff. 

“Anytime there’s a memo that comes in from the league or the NFLPA, it’s always communicated,” McCarthy said. “We all have clear understanding what the state of what we’re in. We’re by no means clear of what went on last year.” 

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Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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