COWBOYS NOTEBOOK: Zack Martin questionable with MCL injury

Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) grabs his knee while injured in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott-to-Cooper connection thriving; Texas NFL teams both leading their divisions.

The Cowboys had to overcome some serious adversity in their 29-23 victory over the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

In a gloomy series of events, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott and right guard Zack Martin — regarded by many as the team’s two best players — left the game with injuries on consecutive plays. Insult was added to injury on the first one as Elliott was called for targeting because he lowered his helmet and made contact at the end of a 14-yard catch-and-run.

The Cowboys responded by converting a third-and-12 when quarterback Dak Prescott hit wide receiver Amari Cooper for a 12-yard gain. But Martin remained on the turf at the end of the play and had to be helped off the field as he slowly limped toward the locker room.

Connor Williams replaced Martin at right guard and it seemed at the time that it would be a long-term injury.

It still could be, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett each reported on Monday that Martin re-aggravated a sprained MCL that knocked him out of the Eagles game earlier this season in Philadelphia. They relayed that the injury won’t require surgery and Martin could practice in a limited capacity at some point this week. However, Martin’s availability for Dallas’s game at Indianapolis on Sunday is questionable at best.

Elliott was checked for a neck stinger and returned to the game on Sunday. He converted a critical fourth-and-one play in overtime with a two-yard run.

DAK’S SECURITY BLANKET: Since arriving from Oakland, wide receiver Amari Cooper has brought explosive plays to the Cowboys offense.

However, a possibly underrated quality is his presence as a go-to possession receiver. Prescott found Cooper to convert three third downs against Philadelphia, including the 15-yard game-winning touchdown, which came on third-and-eight.

It appears Prescott is more comfortable throwing to Cooper than he has been tossing the rock to any receiver, tight end or running back in his time as the Cowboys’ QB. Cooper has caught 40 passes in 6 games, an average of 6.7 per contest. Extending that over a 16-game season would project Cooper catching 107 balls. In his first two seasons as the Dallas starter, Prescott’s high for finding a single pass-catcher was Cole Beasley’s 75 receptions in 2017.

LIFTOFF SINCE HOUSTON GAME: When the Cowboys traveled to play the Houston Texans in Week 5 both teams were mired in early-season slumps.

The Cowboys’ two wins and two losses meant they were a game better than Houston at that point as the Texans lost three of their first four.

Now both Texas NFL teams are on track to make the playoffs. While the Cowboys have a two-game lead in the NFC East with three games left in the regular season, Houston has the same edge in the AFC South. Dallas is in position to help the Texans in their quest to win their division when the Cowboys travel to play the Colts, currently tied for second in the NFC South, on Sunday.

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