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Cowboys’ Micah Parsons Moved to COVID List


Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) during a game. | Image from Getty Images via NBC Sports

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The Dallas Cowboys announced on Wednesday that rookie linebacker Micah Parsons has been moved to the COVID / Injury Reserve list, putting his availability for Saturday’s season finale at Philadelphia in doubt. Parsons is the third linebacker to be placed in COVID protocol, leaving the possibility that the Cowboys will enter Week 18 with only two linebackers on the active roster. 

Currently, linebackers Keanu Neal and Francis Bernard are both in the COVID protocol time period. Newly-adopted testing procedures by the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association have shortened and simplified the process to allow players to get back on the field more quickly.

Still, with the Week 18 game being moved from Sunday to Saturday by the NFL, it is more than likely that Parsons will not be able to play. 

Midway through the 2021 season, the NFL updated the protocol rules to address players who test positive. Among the modifications to the existing procedures, the League reduced the quarantine period from ten days to five days, giving players who test positive early in the week an opportunity to get back on the field without missing a game. This rule exists regardless of vaccination status. 

Players will need to show either improved or no symptoms, be cleared by a team doctor, and will be required to wear a mask when not actively playing in order to return after a positive test.

The rules change was in response to the changing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a proactive approach to limiting the impact the virus has on teams. 

While the Cowboys have not stated when Parsons tested positive, it would need to have been Monday at the latest, according to NFL rules, to allow the rising star to play in the final game of the season. If Micah Parsons is unable to play, he will come up only 1.5 sacks short of the NFL rookie record that has stood since 1999 when Jevon Kearse tallied 14.5. 

Micah Parsons is widely regarded as a front-runner for the Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award and has been in the discussion as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year as well. Former NY Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor is the only player to have won both awards in one season. 

Neal, who went on the COVID list on December 31, also missed two games early in the season after testing positive. Neal has yet to be activated to return from the list but could be available to return to activities this week. 

Bernard has been on the COVID list since testing positive on December 27 following the victory over Washington. He has been primarily a special teams player when active this season. Bernard suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp that caused him to miss the first four games. 

If all three linebackers are unable to clear protocols and return, the Cowboys will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles with Leighton Vander Esch and Luke Gifford as the only active linebackers. 

Rookie linebacker Jabril Cox suffered a season-ending ACL tear on December 31 against the Minnesota Vikings. Currently, the team does not have a linebacker available on the practice squad.

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