Cowboys field emergency ball carriers Thursday as COVID, injury take out 3 RBs

The Cowboys are quickly running out of bodies in the backfield.

Third-year rusher Rico Dowdle, likely the No. 3 ball carrier on the depth chart behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, will miss the rest of this week’s practice sessions after testing positive for COVID, as per the Dallas Morning News. He’s the second running back to contract the virus, joining undrafted rookie Aaron Shampklin.

Team protocol dictates that both players be quarantined for at least five days. If, after five days, no symptoms are present, they may rejoin their fellow players.

Ryan Nall is also a temporary scratch. The fullback signed to the team in April will now miss two to four weeks with a shoulder injury suffered this week.

Combined with Tuesday’s minor injuries to tight ends Jeremy Sprinkle and Jake Ferguson, these latest losses have stretched the offensive unit thin enough that the Cowboys were forced to shorten Thursday’s practice session, reports ESPN’s Todd Archer.

The team is scheduled to depart Oxnard on Aug. 10 and head to Denver, where they’ll practice jointly with the Broncos the following day and then play a preseason game on Aug. 13.

If COVID symptoms linger for Dowdle and Shampklin, it could leave Elliott, Pollard, and undrafted rookie Malik Davis as the only listed running backs available for those dates. (And Elliott has already said he will not see any action in preseason games.)

Wide receivers Dontario Drummond and KaVontae Turpin reportedly took some snaps at running back on Thursday.

They weren’t the only players moonlighting in new spots. Offensive lineman Connor McGovern played some fullback, as did backup center Matt Farniok. And even Elliott, the two-time rushing champ, acted as the lead blocker for Pollard on multiple plays during the day’s practice session.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire