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Cowboys Announce Monday Update On Zack Martin

A closeup of a Dallas Cowboys football helmet.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: A detail photo of a Dallas Cowboys helmet before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Following reports that Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin tested positive for COVID-19, Cowboys fans quickly feared that Martin would be out for Thursday's opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But a new update on Monday may give fans a glimmer of hope.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy announced that Martin has not officially been ruled out of Thursday's game. But he made it clear that Martin is "as close to being ruled out as he could possibly be."

For Martin to be eligible to join the team on Thursday, he would need to post two negative tests for COVID-19. Those tests would need to be achieved within 24 hours of each other.

It remains a long shot that Zack Martin will play. But there is still that glimmer of hope.

David Helman of DallasCowboys.com noted that no other Cowboys players have entered COVID-19 protocols.

Zack Martin is a six-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro selection. At his best, he ranks among the best guards of the last decade.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott recently admitted that Martin is the team's best offensive player. It's worth noting that Elliott had his least productive season last year when injuries limited Martin to 10 games.

The strength of the Cowboys over the past five-plus years has been their offensive line. When the line hasn't played well, the offense has quickly turned anemic. But when healthy, it's among the best in the NFL.

If the Cowboys have any hopes of beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, let alone making a deep run this season, having their line healthy and playing well is essential.