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Cowboys Add Two More Starters to COVID List, Parson Out for Saturday

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Cowboys player Micah Parsons. | Image fro nfl

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy announced on Thursday that two more players had been added to the COVID/ Injury IR list ahead of this Saturday’s season finale at Philadelphia.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and cornerback Anthony Brown both landed on the list, joining rookie linebacker sensation Micah Parsons as the season comes to a close.

McCarthy cautioned that more players may be added to the COVID-19 protocols, as several players are showing signs of illness. Due to current NFL and NFL Players Association rules, Brown and Smith won’t return in time to be available for the game. It is expected that Parsons, Brown, and Smith will be cleared before the team’s Super Wild Card match that will occur during the January 15 weekend.

Smith has had an up-and-down season in 2021. He was hobbled by an ankle injury suffered during the team’s Week 8 victory over the Minnesota Vikings that kept him out of Weeks 9, 10, and 11. Smith re-aggravated the injury in Week 14 against Washington and was held out of the next two weeks of action. He missed all but two games in 2020 after suffering a neck injury that required season-ending surgery to repair.

For Brown, the COVID designation will bring an end to what had already been a career season for the six-year veteran. With the emergence of Trevon Diggs as one of the most ball-hungry corners in the NFL, Brown has seen an increase in work to his side of the field. That has resulted in career-high tackles (68), interceptions (3), and his first career touchdown, which came on a game-sealing pick-six against the division rival New York Giants in Week 5.

Terence Steele will likely be called upon to stand in for Smith at tackle. Steele has filled in for Smith for weeks in which the ankle injury kept him off the field – to rave reviews –  and even took starter La’el Collins’ spot after the player was suspended five games for violating the NFL substance abuse policies.

The Cowboys will call on rookie Kelvin Joseph to step up and replace Brown at cornerback. Joseph suffered a groin injury in the preseason and did not get on the field until the Week 9 match on Halloween. He has played in nine games this season but has only one start. As such, his 2021 numbers are not eye-popping. He has a total of seven tackles and two passes defended, but no interceptions.

Replacing Parsons will be a steep challenge for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Currently, the Cowboys only have three linebackers available. Leighton Vander Esch, who is having his best year since 2018, along with Luke Gifford, will be heavily involved in the defense. On Wednesday, the Cowboys announced that linebacker Keanu Neal had returned from the COVID list, giving the team one of its primary linebackers back in time for the season finale.

The Philadelphia Eagles are also in the midst of dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. The team placed 12 players on the COVID list early in the week, but all will have an opportunity to test out of protocol to be available for action Saturday.

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