Despite the burdensome temperatures, Dallas Goedert's itch to get back on the field was nagging more than ever on Sunday while his team overcame the Bears at Soldier Field.
He's been anticipating his return from the moment he was placed on Injured Reserve for a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 10 against the Commanders. On his schedule, he had just four games checked off, planning to be back in time to face Chicago – but things didn't pan out that way.
"Obviously, I wanted to be out there with the guys," Goedert said. "Sitting there was probably the hardest game for me."
Instead, Saturday will be the day he'll finally suit up alongside his teammates in search of a win against a divisional rival to secure the division title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
"It's an early Christmas present for me," he said. "Dallas and Dallas has a nice ring to it!"
It does have a nice ring to it, and so does his outlook on his injury and recovery process.
"I focused on things I looked at throughout the year that I can get better at," he said. "I talked to the strength staff, who was basically doing all my workouts, and just told them what I want to improve on and how I can get better. So, I used this time to hopefully come back better than I was five weeks ago."
Just hours before the team's announcement that they'd activate him from Injured Reserve, news broke that Jalen Hurts had suffered a shoulder injury in the game against the Bears – it is still uncertain who will start behind center at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, Jalen Hurts or backup Gardner Minshew.
Regardless, Goedert expressed his full confidence in either quarterback – his main focus is on personal prep for the game.
"For me, I've got to make sure my body's ready, my mind is right," Goedert said. "I haven't played in five weeks. I've got to just worry about myself and whoever is back there at quarterback I've got full faith in."
In the nine games before his injury, Goedert had 43 receptions for 544 yards and 3 touchdowns with Hurts at quarterback. But not to worry. If it shakes down that the team's QB1 is listed out, he's no stranger to the legend of Minshew Mania.
Last season, when Hurts was sidelined with an ankle injury, Goedert caught six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns in a win against the Jets with Minshew as the starter.
"I'll probably remind him a couple of times about what happened last year. Hopefully, he feels the same, and I could get the rock a little bit this week," said Goedert.
"You know, it's a funny story. We knew he was gonna be playing that weekend. I was getting my IV, he came in there and Richard Rodgers was telling him about how much we used to talk about him in Jacksonville, how awesome we thought he was. I gotta give some props to Rich Rod because I think he helped out with the targets and the ball coming my way. So, I'm going to be nice to him and just try to be open for him as much as I can."
In terms of this week's upcoming game, Goedert admits he's already got a bit of a head start in the preparations for the potential of Minshew, working with him on air routes and scout team t weeks.
"He's just got a lot of respect (in the locker room), because he comes in here to work every day, prepares like the starter, even though he knows he's the backup. He knows his role and he just waits for his time," said Goedert.
"He's just a smart football player. He's gonna take what the defense gives him. Maybe the Cowboys will be playing a little bit soft inside, worried about DeVonta (Smith), and A.J. (Brown), and hopefully, they forget about me, so they can just dump it to me over the middle – that'd be pretty nice."
Goedert's back in action just in time for the holidays and his return might just spur some fond memories of last year's late December win against the Commanders. After Goedert set a career-high in receiving yards, he waltzed into his postgame press conference decked out in an Elf costume.
Though it doesn't sound like he'll have it packed for the Christmas Eve game against Dallas, keep a look out for some festive fits – he says he may have something else up his sleeve.