The Dallas Cowboys announced that wide receiver Amari Cooper has been officially activated from the COVID-19 list ahead of their Thursday Night Football matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Cooper is not vaccinated and has missed the last two games due to NFL protocol.
After a week of bad news – including multiple players and head coach Mike McCarthy testing positive for COVID-19, the suspension of Trysten Hill, and the announcement that WR Cedric Wilson is out with an ankle injury – Cooper’s reinstatement is a big sigh of relief for Cowboys fans going into a primetime away game.
Why? Because two of the Cowboys’ four losses come from games where Cooper was not on the field. Another was in Week 1 against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The other loss was against the Broncos, where Cooper’s usage was dismal with only five targets and a season-low two catches. Cooper has proven that this team needs his presence to win games.
Even team owner Jerry Jones agrees. On Tuesday, Jones expressed his frustration to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas about Cooper not being vaccinated. Jones knows how important Cooper is to this team and losing him for two games was far from ideal. Keep in mind that if Cooper was vaccinated, he would have been eligible to return if he’d posted two negative COVID tests at least 24 hours apart from each other, and remained without symptoms for 48 hours.
Thursday marks only the third time the Dallas Cowboys will have all three starting wide receivers available this season.
That’s right. Tomorrow will finally be a chance for Dak Prescott to have Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb as throwing options again. For a struggling Cowboys team, getting some key names back is a big deal.
The likelihood is that Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore will be tasked with covering Cooper in the Thursday Night Football game. Lattimore is one of, if not the best, cornerbacks in the NFL. So, don’t freak out if Cooper doesn’t have an amazing stat line. He is still helping.
Cooper occupying Lattimore leaves the rest of a weak passing defense (the Saints are 10th worst in the NFL against the pass in yards per game given up) the daunting task of covering Lamb and Gallup. A struggling secondary will now have to figure out how to tame a three-headed monster.
No matter what Cooper’s ending stat line is, it is almost guaranteed that his return will have a positive effect on the Cowboys. With Ezekiel Elliott hurt, the team will want to make use of its wide receivers, especially against a struggling Saints pass defense.