FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn stayed away from practice with the Dallas Cowboys again Friday while safety Malik Hooker returned in the first sign that the team's COVID-19 outbreak could be easing.
Quinn tested positive for the disease after feeling “a little off” before last weekend's 20-14 preseason loss to Houston and was sent home from the stadium along with defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.
Watkins remained out for health and safety protocols Friday along with receiver CeeDee Lamb, safety Damontae Kazee and left guard Connor Williams. Rookie safety Israel Mukuamu also was sidelined but has since returned.
Quinn, who is vaccinated, declined to tell reporters Thursday where he was in the process of returning. Two negative tests 24 hours apart are required for vaccinated personnel to return. He said his symptoms were mild.
“Feeling fine,” said Quinn, who was head coach in Atlanta when the pandemic hit last year. “Until I get cleared to go back, there’s not a lot you can do other than just staying involved and staying in the moment with the guys and being ready.”
Quinn watched video of practice as soon it was available this week before participating in virtual meetings with members of the coaching staff.
The Cowboys had a mix of live and virtual meetings while practicing three times this week. They will have a light practice, the final one of training camp, Saturday before the preseason finale Sunday at home against Jacksonville.
Passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. called the defensive plays against the Texans. Quinn said the club hadn't reached a point of deciding how the play calling will be handled if he's out against the Jaguars as well.
“It’s important to remind ourselves that building connections with the players transcends FaceTime and WebEx and Zoom calls,” Quinn said. “That the best of the best defenses, you have to be connected to and an extension of one another, and I see that with this team. I don’t think they are going to be too disrupted when things come because of their connection to one another.”
Quinn was fired last year after an 0-5 start in his sixth season with the Falcons, who hired Quinn after he went to consecutive Super Bowls and won the first as Seattle's defensive coordinator.
The 2020 NFL season was completed without an interruption beyond some rescheduled games after all teams were forced into virtual settings for the offseason and had to stay home for training camp.
“I think probably the big push which is better than we had a year ago was the vaccination,” said Quinn, who joined Mike McCarthy's second-year staff after Mike Nolan was fired following his only season in Dallas.
“As far as protocols and things of that, we’re accustomed to doing that when you have to move into a virtual afternoon or morning,” Quinn said. “We’re accustomed to doing that, where just a year ago it just felt so foreign and so hard to do for all of us.”