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2021 Alabama Crimson Tide in the NFL Tracker: Week 12

The Cowboys aren't happy that Amari Cooper wasn't vaccinated, Mac Jones has the Patriots atop the AFC East, and an update on Najee Harris after taking a brutal shot to the head.

Another former University of Alabama football player is being heavily criticized for not not being vaccinated, and this time it's by people associated with his own team. 

A couple of weeks ago it came out that Giants safety Xavier McKinney had not been vaccinated against COVID-19,

“I think it’s everybody’s choice,” he said. “Everybody has reasons. I have my reason. Everybody else has their reasons. That’s what I think.”

However, it was a lot easier for McKinney to make that statement after he had two interceptions, including a pick-six, to help lead the Giants to a 23-16 victory against the Raiders. 

(Ironically, former Crimson Tide coach Burton Burns, who oversees the Giants' running backs, missed the game after contracted COVID. The vaccine is mandatory for all NFL coaches).

Last week, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper tested positive and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He missed last week's loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, when fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb was knocked out of the game in the first half with a concussion, and will also miss Thursday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Although owner Jerry Jones was diplomatic when talking about it on a radio show Tuesday, he acknowledged that Cooper's absence did cost the team.

"Amari Cooper is outstanding," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "He's one of the highest-character guys that you will ever be around in any area. He's outstanding in his introspect and how he does things. Nobody is saying he isn't outstanding, but this is a classic case of how it can impact a team. At the end of the day, this is team. You cannot win anything individually.

"The point is, it popped us. This did pop us."

Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin didn't hold back, though. 

"I don't know what word to put on it, but I am absolutely hot about it," he said when interviewed by TMZ. "Are you joking? I got a guy named Cedrick Wilson catching passes who makes $2 million and a guy named Noah Brown who makes $1 million? And I got a guy who makes $21 million, on the bench, at home, not playing. it's crazy."

The Cowboys lost 19-9, and without his two top receivers quarterback Dak Prescott struggled. 

"Our job as athletes is to try to remove any reason of not winning the Super Bowl," Irvin continued. "It's why I condition, so fatigue isn't the reason that I lose the Super Bowl. It's why I go over plays a million times, so that a mistake is not the reason why I lose the Super Bowl. You have to try to mitigate any issue that can cost you a game or a Super Bowl. And COVID is one of them. You go get vaccinated to try to mitigate it as best you can. Now, you can still get it after you get vaccinated, but it's a different percentage chance of you getting it. And I need you to get that different percentage chance. I'm so hot for Amari Cooper not being on that."

There's increased scrutiny about the NFL's health and safety protocols since McKinney's admission, in part due to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive after telling reporters in August that he was "immunized." 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it's easier for an unvaccinated person to get COVID than a vaccinated person. 

Per the NFL, 94.1 percent of players and nearly 100 percent of team and league staff are vaccinated. 

Cooper has caught 44 passes for 583 yards with five touchdowns this season. He'll miss the chance to face his former team as he was drafted fourth overall in 2015 by the Raiders. 

On the Flip Side ... 

Former Alabama football player Justin Moon has made national news with his story, and after spending 79 days in the hospital, including 39 on a ventilator, is encouraging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Tuscaloosa resident is 36. He's currently relearning how to stand up, walk, and use his right arm again due to nerve damage from the effects of COVID-19.

“There’s only one other step beyond where I was at, and that’s cremation or going in your box," he told UAB News. "I actually died for four minutes, and they shocked me and brought me back. It’s a complete miracle that God saved me. Not too many people get a second chance at life.” 

Moon, an offensive lineman who lettered in 2005, and his wife hesitated to get the vaccine due to the spread of misinformation surrounding the pandemic. After the second surge hit they scheduled their initials shot, only to be diagnosed days before their appointments. 

“We were unsure of the vaccine, and we were wrong,” Moon said. “My situation did not have to be like this. If I had not been unsure of the vaccine and got vaccinated, it would have probably gone like a lot of other stories. ... I would have had a headache, shortness of breath and just laid on the couch for a few days.” 

Check Your Calendars

The NFL announced schedule changes for Week 13 (December 5) and Week 15 (December 18-19).

In Week 13, on Sunday, December 5:

  • The Denver at Kansas City game will move to 7:20 p.m. CT on NBC.
  • The San Francisco at Seattle game will move to 3:25 p.m. on CBS.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati game will remain at noon but move to CBS.
  • The Jacksonville at Los Angeles Rams game will move to 3:05 p.m. and shift to Fox.

In Week 15, on Saturday, December 18:

  • The Las Vegas at Cleveland game will be played at 3:30 p.m. on NFL Network.
  • The New England at Indianapolis game will be played at 7:20 PM on NFL Network.

In Week 15, on Sunday, December 19:

  • The New York Jets at Miami game will be played at noon on CBS.
  • The Carolina at Buffalo game will be played at noon on Fox.
  • The Washington at Philadelphia game will be played at noon on Fox.

Week 12 NFL Schedule

(All Times CT)

Thursday's Games (Thanksgiving)

Chicago at Detroit, Fox, 11:30 a.m. 

Las Vegas at Dallas, CBS, 3:30 p.m. 

Read More

Buffalo at New Orleans, NBC, 7:20 p.m.

Sunday's Games

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, CBS, noon

New York Jets at Houston, CBS, noon

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis, Fox, noon

Atlanta at Jacksonville, Fox, noon

Carolina at Miami, Fox, noon

Tennessee at New England, CBS, noon

Philadelphia at New York Giants, Fox, noon

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, CBS, 3:05 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay, Fox, 3:25 p.m.

Minnesota at San Francisco, Fox, 3:25 p.m.

Cleveland at Baltimore, NBC, 7:20 p.m.

Monday's Game

Seattle at Washington, ESPN, 7:15 p.m. 

Byes: Arizona, Kansas City

Game of the Week 

Titans at Patriots: We know that Derrick Henry and wide receiver Julio Jones won't play, and have no idea when linebacker Rashaan Evans may be back in the field. Nevertheless, its still Mac Jones, Damien Harris, Dont'a Hightower and Christian Barmore going up against the team with the best record in the AFC, and at 7-4 the Patriots are back atop the AFC East. Mac Jones is bidding to become the first rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs since Prescott in 2016. Last week, he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to complete at least 80 percent of his passes in consecutive games (minimum 15 attempts). Overall, he tops all rookies in completions (245), completion percentage (70.2), passing yards (2,540), touchdown passes (14) and passer rating (94.7). 

Highlights

(Will be added throughout the weekend) 

Notes 

• Eddie Jackson of the Chicago Bears has had an interception in both of his last two games played on Thanksgiving.

• Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs will try and add to his league-leading eight interceptions, and he's second in passes defended with 13. Over his past six home games he's tallied six picks and 10 passes defended.  

• He obviously hasn't had the same production, but Najee Harris has matched Henry with 237 touches, the most in the NFL. Despite leaving last week's game after taking a blow to the head, Harris became the first rookie in team history to have 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first 10 games. While Harris isn't listed on this week's injury report, lineman J.C. Hassenauer (pectoral) is questionable, but defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (COVID-19 list) is expected back. Sports Illustrated reported that the defensive back had been vaccinated.

• Finally, it's Iron Bowl week, so here's a specific note regarding former Alabama and Auburn players. When Jalen Hurts ran for three touchdowns last week he was 23 years and 106 days old, making him the second-youngest quarterback in league history to do so in a single game behind Cam Newton (three rushing touchdowns on Dec. 4, 2011, at 22 years, 207 days old). Overall, Hurts has 11 rushing touchdowns during his first 11 games, tying him with Josh Allen and Kordell Stewart for the second-most in NFL history, behind Newton's 14. However, Hurts has already tied Newton for the most games with at least two rushing touchdowns during his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era, with four. One more and he'll have the record. 

This report will be continually updated as necessary, and through the final game on the schedule.

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