Andy Dalton missed Week 8 because of a concussion. He’ll miss Week 9 because of COVID-19.
The Cowboys will host the undefeated Steelers in Week 9 without an experienced NFL starting quarterback available. Dak Prescott has been out since his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5, and Dalton was concussed in Week 7 before being placed on the COVID-19/reserve list in the lead up to Week 9. Ben DiNucci’s time as starter has already been moved on from, too, leaving some combination of Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush to handle the strong Pittsburgh defense.
We’ve broken down the rules that pertain to Dalton’s COVID-19 absence below, including when he may be able to return to the field.
Why isn’t Andy Dalton playing Week 9?
Dalton was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19/reserve list on Nov. 3. According to ESPN, it was because of a positive test for Dalton himself.
When can Andy Dalton return from COVID list?
The following are the NFL’s protocols from returning from the COVID-19/reserve list, keeping in mind that it hasn’t been reported whether Dalton is symptomatic or not:
Following a positive test, if the player is asymptomatic, he can return once:
Following a positive test, if the player demonstrates symptoms, he can return when:
Is Andy Dalton still injured?
Dalton was concussed on a late hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic in Week 7. That rushed rookie Ben DiNucci into the game, and DiNucci started Week 8 as well.
There hasn’t been a definitive report on Dalton’s status in concussion protocol, but ESPN implied that a concussion wouldn’t have kept Dalton out of Week 9. ESPN’s Todd Archer wrote, “The Dallas Cowboys will be without quarterback Andy Dalton for a second straight game but not because of the concussion he sustained two weeks ago.” That suggests the concussion won’t be a worry for Dalton once he gets healthy from COVID-19.
Who are the Cowboys’ other quarterback options?
Dallas has already chosen to move on from DiNucci after he struggled in his first NFL start. That meant the competition heading into Week 9 was between Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush.
Gilbert was the AAF’s best player before it shut down earlier in 2020, while Rush has already spent ample time as a Cowboys’ backup in Kellen Moore’s offense thanks to his time on the roster in 2019.
If Dallas wants to hang on at all in the NFC East, it could choose to swap quarterbacks midgame going forward if the first one struggles. Until Dalton gets back on the field, it’ll have to be a patchwork job for the Cowboys.
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