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Cowboys’ Zack Martin unlikely to return in Week 17 vs. Giants, but could be in play for potential playoff run

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This one’s for all the marbles, and the Dallas Cowboys will still need help to get into the playoffs should they find a way to defeat the New York Giants in the regular season finale. That help would need to come from a loss by the Washington Football Team against the Philadelphia Eagles, but where the Cowboys likely won’t get any assistance is on their offensive front. Zack Martin, a perennial All-Pro right guard who also kicked out to right tackle to help the club turn things around weeks ago, has been sidelined with a calf injury since the team’s loss in Week 12 to Washington. He hasn’t yet been ruled out of the coming fight against Big Blue, but things don’t look promising heading into the team’s first practice on Wednesday.

Martin will do all he can to play in the win-and-you-might-get-in contest, but sources tell CBS Sports that he’ll be a game time decision at best. A usually optimistic Jerry Jones effectively echoed this sentiment when addressing the situation to 105.3FM the Fan on Tuesday, sounding quite pessimistic about Martin’s chances of taking the field at MetLife Stadium.

That said, should the Cowboys make it into the playoffs, Martin’s odds improved markedly.

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“I’m dubious that he can be there this week,” Jones said. “But I’m not about the future weeks. We’ve got a chance in the future. He will make and can make such a difference in this football team. He’s made a difference on any one he’s ever been on any team, but this one he can make a tremendous difference. 

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“It’s unlikely that we can have him this week, but in the future, we could push it and it would give us a dramatic upgrade and it really is the reason for a real optimistic thought about what happens if we could get in the playoffs. It’s a real, valid, tangible thing to hang your hat on. He could really change what we look like out there.”

The usually durable Martin has been sidelined for five games combined in 2020, the most of his illustrious career. 

A game changer at both his position and as a flex out to tackle, Martin’s presence in the playoffs would be massive for the Cowboys, but first they’ll have to get there. And now, it seems they’ll have to do so without him in a game that will determine if he returns in January — or for offseason conditioning in April. In his absence, second-year talent Connor McGovern would get the start against the Giants defensive front, in what will be yet another test for the young offensive lineman. 

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