Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy tests positive for COVID-19, won't coach Thursday vs. Saints

The Dallas Cowboys have lost three of their last four games. They'll attempt to get back on track without their head coach available.

Mike McCarthy has entered the NFL's COVID-19 protocols and will not be on the field for Dallas' Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints, the team announced. McCarthy will remain involved in all meetings and game preparations, but on a virtual basis.

McCarthy tested positive for COVID-19, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The head coach is the only new positive so far on Monday.

McCarthy said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will handle the head coaching responsibilities for Week 13 and move from the coaches booth to the sideline.

"Although he will not be on the field for the Saints game, McCarthy will continue to direct, and be in involved in, all meetings and game preparations on a virtual basis for the remainder of the week, including Thursday's meetings in New Orleans," the Cowboys said in a statement. "The team will conduct all of its meetings today virtually and proceed with its regularly scheduled practice session at 12:15 p.m."

After struggling through a 2020 season in which the Cowboys lost Dak Prescott before the campaign's midway point, Dallas has rebounded emphatically in 2021, racing out to a 6-1 mark in its first seven games. Since then, the Cowboys have won just once in the month of November and are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving.

"The message was just continue on," Prescott said Monday, per The Dallas Morning News. "Obviously, we'll miss coach, but his health is first and foremost important."

Dallas still holds a 2 1/2 game lead in the NFC East and doesn't appear to be threatened by any of the teams behind it, but could very much use a win to bolster confidence after a recent stretch of tough outcomes. With a final five weeks that includes four divisional games, now is the time for the Cowboys to pad their lead.

They'll aim to do so with their top coach helping prepare them via video call before watching his team from home. This is a breakthrough case for McCarthy, who was vaccinated before the season.

"I wasn't 100 percent on board with the vaccination," McCarthy said this summer, per CBS Sports. "But to be able to watch the science and watch the numbers -- I made the decision to get the vaccination. Once I felt it was clearly the right thing to do [I did it]. At the end of the day, we're here to win championships and [vaccination] is a part of it."

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