The last time the Bucs beat the Cowboys was in November of 2015. A lot has changed since then. Jameis Winston is no longer the future of the franchise, and Prescott is coming off a terrible injury that ended his 2020 season just as it was getting started.
And now, Prescott will be facing the Tom Brady Buccaneers, and he’ll be doing it without the services of Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin.
Martin landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday, and while initial reports said Martin would surely miss the season opener in Tampa, there is technically a sliver of a chance he could make be activated before the game.
“I would say he’s as close to being out as you can possibly rule out,” said Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on Monday. “There’s a protocol, so we’ll follow protocol for the game.”
That protocol McCarthy is talking about requires vaccinated players - which Martin is - to be symptom-free for 48-hours and then have two negative tests at least 24-hours apart. If he does those three things, then he can play.
By the hair on his chin, he would make it.
But he likely won’t is the point. Symptoms for COVID-19 don’t usually clear up in a one or two-day period, and the clock on negative tests can’t even start until he is rid of any symptoms he may have.
Dallas’ owner Jerry Jones went on ESPN’s First Take and discussed the matter as well.
“You can tell I’m talking myself into it,” said Jones. “...he’s going to be tested right up until game time. Maybe we can get a couple of negative tests out of him. I’m always looking for that pony in there somewhere.”
Jones also followed up by saying, “Don’t hold out for that.”
As a Pro Bowler, missing the reps isn’t ideal, especially when Dallas is getting ready to go up against Tampa Bay’s stacked defense with Ndamukong Suh activated from the same list on Monday.
Beyond preparation, there’s the physical toll some have reported, which has lingering effects even after the actual illness has run its course.
Either way, with Martin or not, the Dallas Cowboys' chances of pulling out a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just got worse.