FRISCO - How large is the loss of Zack Martin for the Dallas Cowboys’ NFL season-opening game at Tampa Bay on Thursday?
“Zack,” said fellow Pro Bowl vet Ezekiel Elliott, “is our best player on our offense.”
That is saying a lot - about right guard Martin, who has tested positive for COVID and will miss the game, and in a way, about a Dallas offense that is loaded with talent.
“Our best player on our offense”? Cowboys watchers could tab for that honor quarterback Dak Prescott, or four-time Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper, or budding star pass-catcher CeeDee Lamb, or future Hall of Fame tackle Tyron Smith, or two-time NFL rushing champ Elliott himself.
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But of course, the success of those guys in many cases come as a chain reaction from the work of Martin, an All-Decade honoree.
“Most (of Dallas’ successful) runs, they coming back behind him,” Zeke said.
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Says Prescott: “Kellen is on fire. “I’ll come back to the sidelines sometimes and tell him, ‘Man, just keep it up.’
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At the same time, football is a next-man-up business. So assuming Martin doesn’t get medical clearance in time for Thursday’s kickoff - and despite some unsourced national media guessing, the Cowboys have essentially ruled Martin out - Connor McGovern is that “next man.” McGovern, who started eight games last year filling in for the battered O-line, is well-regarded inside The Star.
“I’ll be ready to go,” McGovern promised.
Said Elliott of Martin’s status: “It’s disappointing, but you can’t harp on it. You can’t let it be more than what it is.
“We definitely wish he was out there, but we still have a game to go play and we got to try and get the job done.”