DE DeMarcus Lawrence is expected to return for the Dallas Cowboys for the first time since breaking a foot in practice the week after the opener as Mike McCarthy’s men seek their first road win against New Orleans Saints since 2009. 

Mike McCarthy, however, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and will miss the game.

“It’s like anything; we are far enough into this that everyone understands what we need to get done,” McCarthy says of the disruptions caused by virtual meetings and various protocols. “I feel good about the prep. I think with all the change going around us, it is making our team focus tighter.”

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The Cowboys (7-4) come to the game after having lost two games in a row, their latest being a 36-33 overtime defeat to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. 

The Saints, on the other hand, come after losing four in a row. The Cowboys lead the regular-season series 17-13, but the Saints have won 10 of the last 13 meetings.

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A COVID-19 outbreak has sidelined two players and six coaches for the Cowboys. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is handling head-coaching responsibilities. RT Terence Steele and rookie CB Nahshon Wright are the latest Dallas players to miss games because of the coronavirus.

The New Orleans Saints are expected to start with a new quarterback for the Thursday night game. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Taysom Hill is taking the first-team reps in practice this week. 

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“There’s nothing like playing quarterback in this league, and so certainly that requires an additional amount of energy and responsibility,” Hill said. “You have a greater ability to affect the outcome of a game.”

Kickoff from the Superdome in New Orleans is set for 8:20 PM ET. 

With inputs from the Associated Press