Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers is still in the concussion protocol, and is not expected to practice this week nor play in the team’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Although, Gathers could be out a lot longer than that. Archer also suggested Gathers might be a candidate to go on injured reserve at the start of the season. Under current NFL rules, as many as two players can come off of the IR list after eight weeks, but no more.
Gathers wound up in the concussion protocol after a hit in practice two weeks ago.
Entering his season, Gathers was off to a brilliant start and preseason action, potentially playing himself into the No. 2 tight end role behind Cowboys legend Jason Witten. Gathers finishes the slate of exhibition games with 7 receptions for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in two contests.
What Gathers’ concussion means for the Cowboys
The mere suggestion the club would contemplate holding Gathers out of action for two months suggests he’s dealing with a very severe concussion. Assuming that is the case, Dallas is wise not to rush his return.
That being said, the Cowboys also have to consider carefully the true length of Gathers’ anticipated absence. Since only two players can come off of IR once on, it’s possible the club could use that designation at a later date, when Gathers could have potentially returned a few weeks into the season.
The news is unfortunate, regardless, as the 23-year-old was beginning to look like he could develop into a major weapon. Missing significant time has the potential to derail a season for a second-year player with limited football experience.
Obviously, the important part is Gathers’ short-term and long-term health, and we wish him a speedy recovery.