Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy will not be on the sideline Thursday when Dallas plays the Saints because he is in the COVID-19 protocols. Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy has entered COVID-19 protocols and won’t be on the sideline for Thursday night’s game in New Orleans.

McCarthy, who has said he is vaccinated, will be involved in all meetings virtually and will direct game preparations, the team said Monday. McCarthy is the sixth Dallas coach or staff member to be sidelined for the game against the Saints.

A virtual news conference scheduled for Monday morning with McCarthy was canceled. The team is conducting meetings virtually while holding in-person practices. There was no immediate word who would serve as interim coach on the sideline in New Orleans.

“Although he will not be on the field for the Saints game, McCarthy will continue to direct, and be in involved in, all meetings and game preparations on a virtual basis for the remainder of the week, including Thursday’s meetings in New Orleans,” the team said.

The Cowboys had a COVID-19 outbreak in the preseason and early part of the regular season. There was a lull for about a month before cases ticked up again, starting with kicker Greg Zuerlein in early November.

Right tackle Terence Steele won’t play against the Saints after testing positive for COVID-19. Offensive line coach Joe Philbin and his assistant, Jeff Blasko, are out along with offensive assistant Scott Tolzien.

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Two members of the strength and conditioning staff won’t make the trip: coordinator Harold Nash Jr. and assistant Kendall Smith. Another assistant, Cedric Smith, is expected to be cleared to return.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh placed star outside linebacker T.J. Watt on the COVID-19 list.

Watt is the third high-profile member of the Steelers to go on the COVID-19 list in recent weeks. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick went into the COVID-19 protocol earlier this month.

Roethlisberger sat out practice after going onto the list on Oct. 13 and missed a tie with Detroit. He participated virtually the following week and returned to play in a loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Fitzpatrick did not play against the Chargers after going onto the list on Oct. 15.

PANTHERS: Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.

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McCaffrey had an MRI on Monday that revealed the injury was severe enough to put him on injured reserve. Because of his anticipated recovery time and given that it would be his second time on IR, the news means McCaffrey will miss out on Carolina’s final five regular-season games following its bye week.

The 2017 first-round draft pick was injured in the first half of Carolina’s 33-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins and played only sparingly in the second half.

It’s the second straight year McCaffrey has ended the season on injured reserve. He played in just three games last season.

Since becoming the NFL’s highest-paid running back with a four-year, $64 million contract after the 2019 season, McCaffrey will have missed 23 of 33 games in the last two seasons due to injuries.

The 2019 All-Pro had 421 yards on 68 carries and a touchdown the past four weeks. He finished the season with 442 yard and a touchdown, and 37 catches for 343 yards and a touchdown.

BROWNS: Browns right tackle Jack Conklin will undergo surgery after suffering a season-ending right knee injury on Sunday night at Baltimore, a crushing blow to a Cleveland offense struggling to score.

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Conklin ruptured his patellar tendon while pass blocking in the first quarter against the Ravens, who held the Browns to a season-low 40 yards rushing. An MRI taken Monday confirmed the diagnosis of a tear.

LIONS: The winless Detroit Lions may be without their best player against the Minnesota Vikings.

Detroit Coach Dan Campbell said running back D’Andre Swift’s injured shoulder is still sore, adding it’s hard to envision him playing on Sunday.

Campbell said the team will know more about Swift’s status after practice on Wednesday. Swift aggravated his sprained right shoulder in the second quarter of last Thursday’s loss to the Chicago Bears and was not cleared to return.


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