Over the weekend, the Dallas Cowboys announced a piece of bad news just a few days ahead of their 2021 season opener. Starting right guard Zack Martin tested positive for COVID-19, casting doubt on his status for Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Although the Cowboys revealed on Monday that Martin still technically has a chance to play this week, the tone from head coach Mike McCarthy remained pessimistic on Tuesday. At this point, the 30-year-old is all but officially ruled out for Thursday's game against the Bucs.
"I don't think Zack (Martin) is gonna play in the game," McCarthy reiterated Tuesday,
#Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy reiterates “I don’t think Zack (Martin) is gonna play in the game.” Sounds like he tested positive Saturday. So in theory IF he had 2 negative tests and no symptoms he COULD play but doesn’t sound like a lot of confidence it WILL happen
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) September 7, 2021
">via Jane Slater of the NFL Network.
Slater deduced that Martin likely tested positive on Saturday, which would make it difficult for him to return for kick-off Thursday. Because he's vaccinated, the Cowboys right guard would be eligible to come back if he had two negative tests and no symptoms, but it seems like the team is preparing to move forward without him.
Losing Martin is a huge blow to the Cowboys offensive line as they travel to Tampa Bay to take on one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Third-year man Connor McGovern is expected to get the start at right guard after making 14 appearances and eight starts in 2020, but the rest of the unit will need to step up to if Dallas hopes to slow down Bucs defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea.
An official call on Martin's status will likely come in the next 24 hours or so, but fans shouldn't expect to see him when kick-off rolls around.
The Cowboys and the Buccaneers will begin the 2021 NFL regular season on Thursday night in Tampa Bay. The game will get underway at 8:20 p.m. ET and air on NBC.