FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are 2-7 and riding a four-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
But they are looking forward to resume action after last week’s bye and possibly reviving their season over the final games because of the return of quarterback Andy Dalton.
The Cowboys are hoping for the return of some normalcy to an offense that has started three different quarterbacks in the last three games and two first-time starters in the past two week with Dalton suffering a concussion and contracting COVID-19.
But it’s Dalton who is looking forward to rejoining the Cowboys the most. He has endured a tumultuous three weeks that began with a concussion against the Washington Football Team on Oct. 25 then getting coronavirus. His wife and youngest son also ended up with the virus.
“It felt like a long time, especially when you can’t leave the house and you got three kids at home,” Dalton said. “You and your wife dealing with everything we were dealing with. I was happy to get back in the building, back to work and to get out of the house.”
The Cowboys are happy to have the 10-year veteran back after starting rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci in a 23-9 loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 8. Garrett Gilbert, who had been with the team all of three weeks, then went under center the following week in a 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh.
“I thought he was decisive and he threw the very ball,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Dalton in practice. “That’s the biggest thing, as long as the ball is coming out on time and so forth. I thought he was in rhythm. Andy has excellent command of the whole operation. I thought Andy had a good practice. It’s great to have him back.”
The Cowboys will be able to run their full offense with Dalton against the Vikings after having to pare things down for the young quarterbacks.
But that’s been part of the quarterbacks’ journey over the last month that started with Dalton replacing an injured Dak Prescott and leading a comeback victory against the New York Giants.
Dalton started in the 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and against Washington before being knocked out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter of a 25-3 loss.
He spent the next week in concussion protocol, missing the Eagles game. And he had hoped to return against the Steelers before being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Obviously, dealing with a concussion. It was the first one for me. Just going through that protocol, trying to get back feeling normal and everything,” Dalton said. “Right when I thought I was feeling normal, I got hit with COVID then had to go through that protocol too before I could even get cleared from the concussion and everything. It was a crazy three weeks for me.”
The crazy three weeks include the entire family being put on lockdown.
“Yeah, I distanced away from them but my wife ended up getting it and one of my sons got it,” Dalton said. “So I think it’s just kind of how it was. But my oldest son and my youngest daughter, they did not get it. So, kind of how it goes.”
How it went for Dalton was dealing with headaches and memory loss after the concussion, starting to feel better and then having the headaches come back due to COVID-19.
But though he might have some conditioning issues to overcome, there are some positives from being out so long.
“For the first time for having a concussion, I had three weeks to heal up and not take any hits and all of that stuff, so there is a little bit of a blessing in that,” Dalton said.
He still hasn’t regained full taste and smell, but that’s not an issue for the NFL in allowing him to be activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list.
“The NFL and NFLPA medical officers along with the independent infectious disease consultants do not consider the loss of taste and smell to be a symptom of acute illness after the first few days,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “It is very common that these can be present for weeks after COVID infection.”
And for Dalton, there is some good news in not being able to taste everything.
“You can tell things are sweet,” Dalton said. “You can tell things are salty. You just don’t get the flavor with it. So I can eat really healthy right now and it doesn’t matter ‘cause I can’t taste it.”
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