Dallas Cowboys increase COVID-19 protocols, tell families to stay home for holidays

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys are doing what they can to mitigate the COVID-19 risk, and they have told families not to come to town for the holidays.

"They got to stay home this year. We got to make that sacrifice again," defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. "That's what we came to at the decision as the NFL and also as a team, the Dallas Cowboys. We just got to do whatever it takes to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to win."

The Cowboys have heightened their COVID protocols above the NFL's requirements, going with virtual meetings before and after practice. They have changed the weight room availability for the entire team so large groups are not in there at once. Players' families and friends have access to testing at The Star, and if a player is not feeling well, he can check into the Omni Hotel adjacent to the facility.

Before Wednesday's practice, the team was shown a four-minute video from the league regarding booster shots, which are available to players and staff.

"We're trying to do everything we can to lower the risk and keep our guys safe," coach Mike McCarthy said.

The Cowboys have just one player, defensive tackle Trysten Hill, on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa was activated from the list Wednesday and took part in practice after not playing in last week's game at the New York Giants.

Two coaches -- defensive line coach Aden Durde and assistant special teams coach Matt Daniels -- are in COVID protocols.

The NFL changed its testing policy. Vaccinated players are not required to test once a week although the league has implemented a daily random testing method similar to its drug testing. Unvaccinated players continue to get tested daily, although the Cowboys' lone unvaccinated players, Amari Cooper and Keanu Neal, tested positive earlier in the season. If a vaccinated player or staff member reports symptoms, he or she will be required to test.

"We have to still be aware of our surroundings and make sure we're masked up and do everything possible to keep everybody safe around us." Lawrence said.

At 10-4, the Cowboys can win the NFC East title with a victory Sunday against the Washington Football Team. They also have a chance of securing home-field advantage in the conference, so the players have an added awareness regarding the coronavirus.

"It's as high as it's ever been with the meat of schedule coming to a point and we need everyone here," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "We need to start getting this thing back moving, how we had it early in the season. We are going to need every back to do that."