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SportsPulse: At 2-7 most groups would be actively playing out the string. For the Cowboys they’re in the thick of a division race. Jori Epstein related with Troy Aikman to receives his perspective on how the Cowboys should really watch the relaxation of their season.

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FRISCO, Texas — Sixteen days immediately after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Andy Dalton’s sense of taste and smell even now elude him.

“You can convey to matters are sweet,” the Cowboys quarterback explained Thursday from the Star. “You can convey to matters are salty. You just really do not get the flavor with it.”

Just after a whirlwind month battling a concussion and then the novel coronavirus, Dalton will settle for that.

The Cowboys signed Dalton in May well as insurance policy for 4-yr starter Dak Prescott. When Prescott experienced a season-ending ankle injury Oct. 11, Dalton changed him to full Dallas’ 34-31 win over the Giants. But two video games later on, a vicious head-to-head hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic still left a helmetless Dalton sprawled on the grass of FedEx Field. He relies on others to explain to him what took place up coming.

“I keep in mind selecting to slide and then there’s a little little bit there that I really don’t remember,” stated Dalton, who experienced prevented a concussion analysis by his initial 140 job game titles. “In the instant, you don’t comprehend it. But then the aftermath of it all, variety of heading again, you notice you’re lacking some of your memory of stuff which is occurred.

“I necessarily mean, which is unquestionably something you really do not want to have happen.”

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Dalton was cleared to fly back from Washington with the group. He went through NFL concussion protocol the ultimate 7 days of Oct, unable to follow but allowed to take part in some meetings that week as rookie seventh-rounder Ben DiNucci geared up to start at Philadelphia. Dalton was at the facility and in the Cowboys’ quarterbacks conference Oct. 31 just prior to the workforce remaining town with no him. His head aches and concussion signs or symptoms had alleviated as the 7 days elapsed. Dalton was hopeful he could be cleared to perform the undefeated Steelers the subsequent 7 days.

Then, Dalton’s head aches returned. They felt various from his earlier-week concussion aftermath. Dalton examined favourable for COVID-19, landing on the Cowboys’ reserve record Nov. 3. His wife and younger son tested constructive a “couple of days after” even though their daughter and more mature son did not appear to deal it.

Quarantining at the Dalton household ensued. Dalton could raise weights and textual content Garrett Gilbert as the journeyman prepared to be the Cowboys’ fourth quarterback in five months. But Dalton essential to delay any check out to the Star for workout routines or meetings, as nicely as to very clear himself from the concussion protocol.

“It hit me challenging the initial working day I experienced it,” Dalton mentioned of the virus. “I ultimately misplaced odor and style. Early on that’s not what I had. But by the conclusion of it, I did get rid of my smell and flavor and am however hoping to get that back again.”

By past Thursday, Dalton returned to the Star to toss and ensure his timing was sharp during Dallas’ bye week. He was capable to fully take part in the Cowboys’ walkthrough on Monday, formally shaking the concussion and COVID-19 protocol limitations by Wednesday. Head coach Mike McCarthy declined to publicly title Dalton the starter for this weekend’s pay a visit to to Minnesota but has lauded the veteran’s efficiency in his return.

“I imagined he was decisive, and he threw the ball really nicely,” McCarthy claimed Thursday morning. “That’s the largest detail, as long as the ball is coming out on time and so forth. I assumed he was in rhythm. Andy has excellent command of the total procedure. I thought Andy had a great follow yesterday. It can be good to have him back.”

Gilbert, who retained Dallas competitive in a 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh, is anticipated to be Dalton’s backup. But McCarthy and Cowboys administration have constantly touted a balanced Dalton as their finest solution proper now, Dalton’s expertise in nine seasons with Cincinnati offering him defensive go through abilities remarkable to teammates with one particular or zero starts off. Dalton also has the best repertoire to optimize offensive chemistry, coaches imagine. Dalton took reps at the rear of Prescott beginning in instruction camp though Gilbert signed with the workforce in October. DiNucci’s developmental year was intended not to feature significantly far more than scout-staff contributions.

“Ben and Garrett didn’t have the option to have that financial institution account of reps,” McCarthy mentioned. “It’s unquestionably a greater menu to choose from.”

With Dalton at the helm and defensive enhancement their past two video games, the 2-7 Cowboys technique the 4-5 Vikings with far more self-assurance than they’d publicly shown in recent months. They are past in the division, however no crew features a far better document than Philadelphia’s 3-5-1. The Cowboys await the best approaching timetable, their remaining opponents combining to be 24-39-2. Indeed, it’s “crazy,” gamers confess, but the Cowboys scent a route to an not likely postseason berth.

Dalton, meanwhile, is appreciating “a little bit of a blessing” that he went a few months without having taking hits immediately after his initial concussion, “if you want to locate the constructive in it.” And a person other sweet take note?

“I can consume really healthier right now,” Dalton laughed, “and it doesn’t subject, ’cause I can not style it.”

Comply with Usa Now Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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