While the Dallas Cowboys, who have lost two straight games and three of their last four, are hoping to shake a slump Thursday night in New Orleans, they remain stuck in the grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still wreaking havoc within the organization.

Rookie safety Nahshon Wright tested positive for the virus on Tuesday and he will not play against the Saints. The team now has nine players or staffers — with Coach Mike McCarthy being chief among them — currently in COVID-19 protocols.

Wright’s disqualification makes an NFL-high of nine the number of Cowboys players who will have missed a game this season due to COVID-19.

The Minnesota Vikings have had 10 players go on the COVID-19 list since the beginning of November, but they have had only eight players miss games this season. They are expected to match the Cowboys’ nine with their game on Sunday.

As far as total games missed due to COVID-19, the Vikings lead the way with 14, the Arizona Cardinals are next with 12, and the Cowboys are at 10, according to Howard Balzer of Sports Illustrated who has kept a running total since the start of the season.

The Cowboys got some good news Wednesday when receiver Amari Cooper, who is one of just two unvaccinated players on the team and who has missed the past two games with COVID-19, was cleared and will now available for Thursday’s game in New Orleans.

The big question is how much he will be able to play able to play and how effective he will be due to a lack of conditioning after so much missed time.

McCarthy said Cooper had been experiencing a cough, and he did not practice Monday or Tuesday. He was able to practice Wednesday, allowing them to remove him from the NFL’s COVID-19 list before the team boarded the plane to New Orleans.

BUCS: Veteran receiver Antonio Brown isn’t expected back for Sunday’s key divisional game at Atlanta.

Coach Bruce Arians said he doubts Brown will return to practice before the week is over, citing foot injuries beyond the ankle sprain. Brown, the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations that he obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, has been sidelined the last five games.

He wasn’t seen at the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to reporters. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing an unnamed source, later tweeted Brown is expected to miss the next two games.

GIANTS: Quarterback Daniel Jones practiced on a limited basis despite a strained neck and he hopes to play this weekend against the Dolphins in Miami.

“I think it’s just sore,” Jones said after a short workout. “Like I said, I’m feeling much better today and expect I’ll continue to feel better and better every day.”

Concern about Jones’ playing status blew up Tuesday night when it was reported he sustained a neck injury in a win over the Eagles on Sunday and there was a chance he might miss a game.

It was somewhat surprising because Jones did not appear to be hurt in the 13-7 win. He didn’t miss any snaps and he also took part in the postgame news conference.

Jones said he woke up early Monday because his neck hurt. Coach Joe Judge added he was not told at any time during the game that Jones was hurt. He found out Monday when he got a copy of the injury report. Players had Tuesday off.

SEAHAWKS: Attempting to beef up an injury-riddled backfield that on Monday night was held to its fewest rushing yards of the season, the Seahawks are bringing in veteran Adrian Peterson for a visit and could sign him this week, a league source confirmed to The Seattle Times.

Peterson, who turned 36 in March, is the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history with 14,902 yards and is said to be visiting Seattle Wednesday.

Peterson gained 11,747 yards during 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he last played in 2016.

He has since bounced around the NFL having played with Arizona, New Orleans, Detroit, Washington and Tennessee.

He played in three games for the Titans earlier this season after Tennessee lost Derrick Henry to injury. He gained 82 yards on 27 carries in three games before being waived on Nov. 23.

CHIEFS: The Chiefs signed veteran offensive lineman Kyle Long after his year-long retirement with the expectation that he would arrive in training camp and immediately compete for a starting job.

It took a little longer than either of them imagined.

Long fractured what’s called the tibial plateau in his knee during a June workout, landing him on the physically unable to perform list throughout camp and into the regular season. He was finally designated to return to practice on Nov. 9, which began a three-week window for the Chiefs to decide whether they would add him to the active roster.

That occurred just before the Tuesday deadline, and Long was on the practice field Wednesday as the Chiefs (7-4) returned from their bye to begin preparing for the Broncos on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

TEXANS: The Houston Texans canceled practice and all other in-person activities on the advice of their medical team because some players weren’t feeling well. Coach David Culley said they have not had any positive COVID-19 tests.

Culley, speaking to reporters via Zoom, said that the team would resume normal operations Thursday.

“We’ve got a few players that are under the weather right now, a little sick, and our medical team just felt like that it’d be best for us for precautionary reasons just to keep them home, and then we’ll be back to business as usual (Thursday),” Culley said.

Players were told to stay home Wednesday and all team meetings were to be held virtually.

BEARS: While Justin Fields returned to practice, Andy Dalton got the first-team snaps.

Whether the prized rookie or veteran will start at quarterback Sunday when the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals visit Soldier Field remains to be seen.

Fields had not practiced since he cracked ribs in the loss to Baltimore on Nov. 21 and was replaced by Dalton. The three-time Pro Bowler led a late go-ahead scoring drive before the Ravens pulled it out and, with a short turnaround, started in a Thanksgiving victory at winless Detroit.

When Fields is healthy, he remains Chicago’s No. 1 quarterback. The No. 11 overall draft pick strung together several solid outings prior to the Baltimore game.

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