The Cowboys announced Wednesday, January 5 that the defensive rookie phenom has been moved to the Reserve/COVID-19 list, jeopardizing his status for Dallas’ Week 18 finale against the Eagles.
“Not a great chance — I believe the fastest #NFL player return time has been 4 days — but yes, a chance [Parsons plays],” NBC5’s Pat Doney said of the Saturday night game.
Parsons will not practice Wednesday and it’s unclear as of this writing whether he will travel with the team when it departs for Philadelphia on Friday. His placement in coronavirus protocols comes one day after the Cowboys activated rookie defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna from the COVID list.
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Good to Go for Postseason?
Assuming he’s inactive, Parsons will finish his inaugural NFL campaign two sacks shy of breaking the league’s single-season rookie record (14.5) held by former Titans great Jevon Kearse.
The 12th overall pick of last April’s draft, however, should test out of the protocols well before Dallas’ first playoff contest, the date for which is to be determined.
“If there’s a silver lining to Parsons being placed in the COVID-19 protocols now, it’s that the Cowboys have already clinched the division. And now Parsons won’t have to worry about testing positive for the virus during the postseason,” noted Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk.
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‘Best Ability is Availability’
That Parsons probably will miss his first NFL game is ironic considering the Defensive Player of the Year contender, just 24 hours prior, crowed about his “availability” being a major asset to Dan Quinn’s overachieving unit.
“I take complete pride in being the most versatile player in the NFL,” Parsons said Tuesday, January 4, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein. “When I came in here, (Assistant to the head) coach Rob Davis said the best ability is availability. I took that and a lot of ownership because I feel like if I want to be on the field, I’ve got to be able to do anything asked of me or more. I just like lining up everywhere and just being dynamic. It’s almost like at recess for me. I feel like I’m a kid again like let me go tackle my buddy, let me go cover my buddy and I’m going to go tackle. It’s a whole bunch of fun for me. I just really enjoy it.”
Parsons certainly made his case for recognition as the sport’s premier defender. Vacillating between inside linebacker, edge rusher, and defensive end, the Penn State product has registered 30 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles to go along with his 13 sacks. He’s currently ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 1 LB among 86 qualifiers.
“I never just play one position,” Parsons said, via Epstein. “I feel like if I could just rush, I might be an 18-20 sack guy, too. If I stayed in pass coverage and run, I’d be a 100-tackle guy, too. Because of my abilities I’ve got to own certain things throughout the game. I’ve got to own a role throughout the game so that way I can put my team in the best position to win.
“When it comes to terms like that of just impacting the game, I would definitely put myself up there with those guys as being defensive player (of the year).”