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Cowboys' Andy Dalton 'Looked Good' in Return to Practice, Says Mike McCarthy

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2020, file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to pass the ball against the Washington Football Team in the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md.  Dalton has been cleared for practice after clearing the protocols for a concussion and COVID-19. Coach Mike McCarthy said Dalton participated in an informal practice Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, the first day back for the Cowboys coming off their open week. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton returned to practice Monday, but his status for Sunday's Week 11 game against the Minnesota Vikings remains unclear.

"We've got to get through the whole week of practice," head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. "He hasn't been involved in a couple of weeks now. He looked good today, so we'll take it one day at a time."

Jerry Jones said during his Tuesday appearance on 105.3 The Fan (h/t Jon Machota of The Athletic) that he expects Dalton to play against the Vikings.

Dalton missed the Cowboys' Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a concussion and their Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The longtime Cincinnati Bengals starter signed with Dallas in May and took over the offense in Week 5 when Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

The 33-year-old has struggled across four appearances when healthy, though, completing 61.2 percent of his throws for 452 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Neither of the Cowboys' other reserves, Ben DiNucci or Garrett Gilbert, has done much when given a chance to lead the offense. Cooper Rush is on the practice squad and could be another option to start should Dalton miss another game.

In most cases, Dallas' 2-7 record would be too big of a hole to find a way out of during the second half of the regular season. The Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFC East with a 3-5-1 record, however, leaving the Cowboys just 1.5 games out of a playoff spot with a head-to-head meeting with Philly still on the horizon.

A major turnaround would be necessary to vault them to the top of the division, though. Not only has the offense fallen off without Prescott, but the defense ranks 25th in yards allowed per game (395.0).

Still, McCarthy said he's discussed the postseason path with his team coming out of its Week 10 bye:

"Like anything in this game, especially from the messaging of a head coach, you have certain things to talk about, certain things you really don't want to talk about and certain things you just don't talk about. In my younger years, there were certain things I'd stay away from; they were just obvious. The point I'm making is, it's obvious the state of our division. It's something. I hit it today in the team meeting. I think it's only obvious what the four records are in the division and winning the division and what's in front of you."

Getting Dalton back would be a step in the right direction. He's better than he's shown through his first handful of appearances for the Cowboys, throwing 204 touchdowns in 133 games for the Bengals, and he has no shortage of weapons in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

Kickoff against the Vikings is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

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