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Zack Martin isn’t interested in playing right tackle for the Dallas Cowboys.
The All-Pro right guard, who returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 4, was definitive about the prospects of him moving to right tackle in the wake of La’el Collins’ five-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Martin filled in at tackle for a couple of games a year ago.
“Well, last year we had about six tackles down. That was the biggest difference,” Martin said. “I think that was different circumstances last year. I play right guard and that’s what I’m going to do.”
When he was pushed on the subject, Martin conceded that “I’m open to do whatever they need me to do but, um, yeah … “
His trail off said it all.
If Terence Steele, who is expected to start at right tackle against the Los Angeles Chargers at 3:25 p.m. Sunday, and backup Ty Nsekhe struggle, Martin would reluctantly move over if asked.
Collins won’t be available until Week 8 against the Vikings in Minnesota on Oct. 31. So there will be plenty of time for right tackle to become a potential issue.
After testing positive on Sept. 4, Martin was never going to be available for Week 1.
Despite the public claims of hope from owner Jerry Jones, Martin’s symptoms made that an impossibility, although he only had mild symptoms. Martin knew something was wrong the night before the test results came in via a call from Cowboys head trainer Jim Mauer.
“The night before I got my positive test, I was eating dinner and I kind of had a congested nose and I told my wife, I can’t really taste this, thinking I was maybe congested, then I got the call from Jim the next morning that I had tested positive. Bad deal.”
Martin knew bad news was coming when he saw Mauer’s name on his phone.
“I had a feeling when I rolled over and saw it that I was probably screwed,” said Martin, who lost his sense of taste and smell and had head congestion and a sore throat.
“I was lucky I didn’t get bad fevers or anything like that,” he said. “I tried to stay active as much as I could last week, I tried to get some sort of cardio in so when you come back you’re in halfway decent shape. It was a long week but I’m happy to be back.”
While away from the team, he did a lot of running and biking to stay in game shape. After the first few days, he said, he had more energy. His senses came back after about a week.
“It’s weird because you don’t want to eat but you know you have to to keep your weight on, at least for me,” he said. “I’ve got to eat to keep my weight up, so there are a lot of meals where you just are forcing it down.”
He felt good Wednesday, he said. Thursday’s practice will be his first with pads.
“Tomorrow will be a big day for me, running around feeling the contact,” he said.
Missing the season opener was rough, he said.
“It is very frustrating, especially the timing. But it’s the world we live in right now,” he said. “[I’m] definitely not going to be the last guy that’s dealing with this, so we just have to deal with it when it comes our way. Just terrible timing. I would have obviously loved to be out there with those guys. But I’m back now. Get it out of the way and hopefully move forward here.”
Martin expects Steele and Nsekhe will do the job.
“I’ve played next to Tyler and Terence and had a ton of reps with Ty during camp, so I’m confident whatever combination is out there we can get the job done and really thrive. I’ve had a lot of reps with those guys and feel really good about it.”