Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Cowboys vs. 49ers in wild card round: Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith and more activated from COVID list

As it stands, you can count on the Dallas Cowboys being very near full strength when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend, and that includes having both rookie phenom Micah Parsons and All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith in tow. The Cowboys became one of many to suffer a mini-outbreak of sorts heading into Week 18 — their second dance of the season with said issue — causing many starters to miss the eventual 51-26 shellacking of the Philadelphia Eagles, who themselves had a list of key players on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week. 

But after missing the regular season finale due to COVID-19, both Parsons and Smith have been activated and returned to practice alongside starting cornerback Anthony Brown and linebacker Francis Bernard, leaving only safety Jayron Kearse on the list.

Kearse, who’s dealing with a hamstring injury that would’ve likely seen the Cowboys hold him out of Week 18 anyway, was the only player on the roster who hadn’t yet been cleared of the reserve/COVID-19 list — as of Wednesday evening. That changed Thursday morning, per the team, when the Cowboys made the move and he’s set to rejoin practice with plenty of time to ready for the 49ers, a key addition in their task to try and bottle up All-Pro tight end George Kittle.

And, as of Thursday morning, they’ve had no new additions to the list.

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As for doing their best to keep players from testing positive in what are now win-or-go-home games, team exec Stephen Jones isn’t ignorant to players having recently been spotted out at sporting events, and maskless, and spoke on that concern this week.

“It is [nerve-racking trying to keep players off of the reserve/COVID-19 list],” Jones told 105.3FM the Fan. “Obviously, we push. It’s in the messaging nonstop that we got to make sacrifices in terms of what we’re doing as players, as coaches, etc. in terms of trying to stay as healthy as possible. We all know how contagious this variant is and we just have to do, really conduct ourselves in a way that gives us a chance to stay virus free and put our best 48 guys out there to go out and beat the 49ers.”

Several players have opted to check into The Omni Hotel attached to The Star in Frisco — the team’s headquarters and practice facility — sources tell CBS Sports, in an effort to make said sacrifices and prevent being the player that potentially risks the team’s chances of winning playoff games. 

It’s a point owner Jerry Jones recently spoke on as well, hinting at a more stern message having been sent to players.

“I really think our mentality, our practice, our protocol has evolved,” Jones told 105.3FM the Fan on Tuesday. “This last two or three weeks have been, as it has for the nation, have really been a heightened practice of awareness or addressing the COVID. There’s no question there’s uptick. It’s gotten more intense. 

“We all see that everyday in all of our lives. And, so, we have to be sensitive to that, which means, yes, we have to pay more attention. We have to watch it more. Our players are as highly, highly aware of what it means to get to play in this game Sunday, or what it means to be available over these next few days and weeks, if you will. 

“Remember the endgame: the endgame is to be able to be on the field Sunday.”

If all goes according to plan, this Sunday will feature the biggest stars the Cowboys have to offer, and they’d like to make sure that’s also the case in a week from now if they can stave off the an upset at the hands of the very-capable 49ers. 

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