The COVID list giveth, and the COVID list taketh away. On the same day defensive end Randy Gregory rejoined the team after completing the protocol, linebacker Keanu Neal was placed on the watchlist. His availability for Monday night’s home opener is now in question, but he could conceivably be cleared in time for the Week 3 game versus Philadelphia. The Dallas defense continues to be a patchwork affair, though; two other linemen are now being called “unlikely” to play in the divisional rivalry game.
That defense has still been impressive through two games. Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse have been welcome additions to the Cowboys unit, while Micah Parsons’s sudden fill-in at edge rusher still has tongues wagging. A franchise icon says that side of the ball isn’t getting its proper due… and the secondary gets another practice squad body, this one with veteran experience. All that, plus Terence Steele is proving his doubters wrong, a handful of Dallas stars take a step toward Canton, and an ex-Cowboys DB is on an island of a different sort. News and Notes, coming your way…
Randy Gregory returns from COVID exile, set to play vs Eagles :: Inside the Star
Link The defensive end has completed the COVID protocol and rejoined his teammates at The Star on Wednesday. Gregory looks like he’ll be ready to suit up and face the Eagles on Monday night after a Week 2 game that saw both of the Cowboys’ regular edge rushers absent.
Report: Cowboys LB Keanu Neal placed on Reserve/COVID list :: Cowboys Wire
Link The Dallas defense will likely be without yet another of its players due to COVID. Neal was placed on the watchlist on Wednesday. That would make the third consecutive game the team has played with one of its key contributors in the protocol, after Zack Martin in Week 1 and Gregory last Sunday.
Unvaxxed Neal has not tested positive, has chance to play Monday :: Patrik Walker (Twitter)
Keanu Neal moved to the COVID/Reserve list by the #Cowboys.
Key to note: He has not tested positive, but is instead labeled a close contact. As such, due to not vaxxed, he’s subject to daily testing and a five-day quarantine period.
It’d be 10 days if he tested positive.
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) September 22, 2021
Cowboys loved Micah Parsons’ play at DE, but they don’t want to take away his ‘superpower’ :: The Athletic
Link If there was a downside to Parsons’s fill-in day at defensive end, it was the reduced number of snaps that normally come with that position. The rookie even told the staff that if he subs in again as an edge rusher, he’d prefer to switch to linebacker on his off-plays. Quinn doesn’t sound interested in moving him to the line, though: “He can run and hit like you know what. That’s his superpower. And he’s got rare speed and physicality to do that. I want to make sure that we’re always featuring that part of his game.”
Dorance Armstrong, Carlos Watkins unlikely to play in Week 3 :: Todd Archer (Twitter)
The Cowboys are likely to be without DE Dorance Armstrong (high ankle) and DT Carlos Watkins (knee) Monday vs. the Eagles, according to sources. Likely more DE work for Micah Parsons. Maybe a PS call-up for DT Justin Hamilton.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) September 22, 2021
RT Terence Steele exceeded everyone’s expectations except Cowboys vs Chargers :: Cowboys Wire
Link After a week in which seemingly the entire sports world had an opinion on who should play right tackle instead of him, Steele gave an inspired performance in a huge road win against the Chargers. “One of my heroes of the game,” owner Jerry Jones called him. “I just thought he was outstanding. He’s been so consistent.”
Rating the biggest surprises of the 2021 NFL season for all 32 teams: Which will continue, and which are a mirage? :: ESPN
Link The Cowboys defense has six takeaways in two games. That feels like a surprise, but Todd Archer points out that maybe it shouldn’t be. And it’s not a mirage. Dallas has actually forced a turnover in each of their last nine games, dating back to last season. (It took eight games in 2020 to hit six takeaways.)
Cowboys sign former Texas Longhorn CB Holton Hill to practice squad :: Cowboys WIre
Link The Cowboys are staying in-state with their latest practice squad signing. Hill went undrafted in 2018 out of the University of Texas before signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He played in all 16 games with three starts and registered 36 tackles, an interception, and seven passes defended; things have been rough since then, with injuries and suspensions.
Troy Aikman: Cowboys defense ‘probably should be getting a lot more credit’ :: Dallas Morning News
Link The legendary Cowboys passer and current FOX analyst says of the Dallas defense: “What they’ve done the last two weeks and creating the takeaways- that’s always been a little bit of a problem- has really helped them.” Aikman also praised rookie Micah Parsons. “This guy could be really, really special. We may look back on this one and say, ‘Wow, how fortunate were the Cowboys that they didn’t have one of those corners’ in the 2020 draft. Aikman made the comments on Dallas radio station 96.7 FM/1310 AM The Ticket.
Kazee, Kearse providing Cowboys with solid safety play early in 2021 :: Cowboys Wire
Link It’s a whole new ballgame at safety for the Dallas Cowboys after years of lackluster play there. Newcomers Kazee and Kearse have been highly impressive in their play over the first two games of 2021. Kazee has forced a fumble and intercepted a pass, both in the end zone. Kearse has stepped into a spot role with six tackles and a pick that was negated by penalty.
Danny McCray now competing on Survivor :: The Mothership
Link The former Cowboys safety will be one of the castaways competing for the crown on the current season of Survivor. McCray is now the fourth ex-Cowboy to appear on the reality competition, following Gary Hogeboom, Jimmy Johnson, and McCray’s former teammate, Alan Ball. The 41st season of the award-winning series, filmed in the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji, premiered Wednesday night on CBS.
DeMarcus Ware leads list of Cowboys eligible for 2022 Hall of Fame class :: Cowboys Wire
Link The franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, forced fumbles, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits has taken the first step toward Canton. Ware joins Herschel Walker, Darren Woodson, and Erik Williams as modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Tony Romo did not make the cut.