Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence expected to play vs. Saints; WR Amari Cooper TBD

The Dallas Cowboys hope to add a key playmaker on each side of the ball -- wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence -- when they play against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. The former's availability, however, is still up in the air.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, on his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan, said Tuesday that Cooper was slated to step up his practice participation and expected to be back in the lineup after testing positive for COVID-19. However, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, said later Tuesday morning that, while Cooper is back in the facility, the WR is "still not feeling the best" and it is still "to be determined" whether he'll practice.

"My gut would be if he doesn't practice tomorrow," McCarthy said, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, "I don't see him going to the game."

Cooper has missed the last two games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list, against the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders.

Lawrence forced a fumble in the Cowboys' season opener, but sustained a broken foot in practice the following week and hasn't played since.

"Lawrence has had a good week," Jones said. "You'll see him this week in New Orleans. My goodness, what a difference a player like that can make. Of course, he'll have to get his game going once he gets back in here."

The two-time Pro Bowler's pass-rushing prowess has been capably replaced by standout rookie Micah Parsons. Lawrence's return would free up Parsons to play more of an off-the-ball role, although his impact in Lawrence's absence could compel defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to keep him more involved as a pass rusher.

Lawrence signals the beginning of more returns from injury for the Cowboys. Defensive end Randy Gregory and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore are on the mend, as well. Gallimore has been designated for return from injured reserve following an elbow injury, while Gregory is recovering from a calf injury.

"Right behind (Lawrence) will be Gallimore, right behind him will be Gregory. I don't know that you'll see them (against the Saints) but certainly you could see them after 10 more days up in Washington," Jones said. "When I say them, I'm a little loose, but you'll see one or the other, maybe both, by Washington."

In other Cowboys news, McCarthy told reporters that rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright has been placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has been battling a knee issue, was a full participant at Tuesday's practice.

The Cowboys (7-4) play at Washington on Dec. 12.

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