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Cowboys News: Keanu Neal Won't Play vs. Eagles After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 25, 2021

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy announced linebacker Keanu Neal will miss Monday night's Week 3 game against the Philadelphia Eagles after testing positive for the coronavirus.

McCarthy provided the update Saturday after Neal was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday when he was deemed a high-risk close contact.

Neal signed with Dallas as a free agent in March on a one-year, $4 million contract. He spent his first five NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 26-year-old University of Florida product started the Cowboys' Week 1 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he has played over 70 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the first two games, per Pro Football Reference, despite not being in the starting lineup for last week's win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

He's tallied nine tackles through his first two appearances.

Leighton Vander Esch should pick up most of the extra playing time at the linebacker level alongside Jaylon Smith and Micah Parsons. The Cowboys have been using an extra defensive back in a lot of situations, which could lead to more snaps for Jayron Kearse.

Neal's next chance to play will come Oct. 3 when Dallas hosts the Carolina Panthers.

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Meanwhile, defensive end Bradlee Anae will be absent after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

He'll join Neal, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (knee) among the team's key contributors who are out of the lineup.

The depletion of depth is a concern for a unit that ranks 27th in total defense (419.5 yards allowed per game).

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