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Offseason | 2024

Mick Shots: Micah, ACLs, Digging In, Zack Says


FRISCO, Texas – Just as predicted this past Friday, Micah Parsons, the no-show during the previous seven weeks of the Cowboys Phase I, II and III "voluntary" workouts, made his first on-field appearance for this week's "mandatory" minicamp.

Not in time for the 10:45 a.m. opening stretch on Tuesday out here at The Star, the first day of this three-day minicamp, but just two of those days being spent on the field. Nope, Micah being Micah, comes trotting out at 11:02 a.m., following the stretch and a few brief drills to join the defense setting up in these lightly contested 11-on-11 periods.

First and seemingly mostly lining up at defensive end in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's scheme, rotating to the weakside, at times setting up really out wide and then also taking snaps at linebacker, too. That's the plan as Zimm says, asking Micah to play "multiple" positions, and not just be a sitting duck far too often as he was last year at defensive end.

Too predictable. Too easily doubled. Heck tripled at times looping inside by a combination of the guard, center and even an awaiting running back to protect the quarterback.

And as predicted, Micah deftly handled all the questions, as contentious as some were trying to be, those asking about his absence, his vow to be a team leader and the chemistry he had previously promised, when nowhere to be seen during the first three phases of the offseason workouts here at The Star.

He had done his "voluntary" homework, too, pointing out the Rams Aaron Donald staged contractual-based holdouts in 2017 and 2018 and yet won NFL Defensive Player of the Year both times. Nice point, but his offseason absences are not based on money – we think – but on his stubbornly-based philosophy of working out on his own.

Says team comradery is not based solely on on-field work, when the competition is CBA muted, saying he can better spend his time doing is own thing.

But he did make this good point.

"Understand the business side of it, too," he began. "Your body, this is all I have, this is all I have to offer the Cowboys. Before you sign a contract, you go through a physical, before everything, before you're even on a team, you go through a physical.

"Like this is my engine, like this is where all my equity is, where all my equity lies. I have no equity outside of this to offer them. So, in the end, you have to understand availability is the best ability, and if I'm not available when it really matters because I'm banged up or my body is not healing properly or didn't get all the rehab I needed to be successful, then that's on me, not on them and they'll just find the next me."

Catch his drift

There is only one problem with his logic. The CBA rules do not allow bodies to get rundown in these sanitized workouts. Not like back in the day when teams really got after it in these offseason workouts, at times going so hard in the late spring heat, and no matter the players were not in shoulder pads, they competed hard, real hard, some noted to lose their lunch if you know what I mean. My gosh, guys suffered injuries back then, since while contact was not allowed, boys will be boys competing.

And once again, Micah needs to realize, do not let these offseason impressions on the front office get in the way of the Cowboys soon making him a long-term financial commitment. One of the best defensive players in the league, Micah is on the final year of his four-year contract, set to earn a $2.989 million base salary. The Cowboys already have picked up his fifth-year option for 2025 worth a guaranteed $21.3 million and can retain his services for the following two years on franchise tags, all guaranteed, but without that long-term security that comes with a whopping signing bonus.

My humble advice, and I'm no financial adviser, but come with some common sense: Don't do anything to fall out of front office favor. Sometimes it's not all about the sacks.

  • Extra Special: The Cowboys spent time on kickoffs, kickoff returns and coverage, trying to get a head start on the new kickoff rules intending to create more returns. Head coach Mike McCarthy said only 20 percent of kickoffs last year were returned thanks to an exorbitant number of touchbacks. Now with teams lining up closer and a premium placed on kicks landing between the 20 and goal line, McCarthy is anticipating the return percentage jumping to 60 percent. So, kicker Brandon Aubrey was working on landing his kickoffs not only in that 20-yard area, but also directionally outside the numbers to enhance coverage ability. And teams are allowed to have two guys back for returns. That had the likes of KaVontae Turpin, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn and Jalen Cropper setting up for returns. Tell you what. Can't wait for this.
  • Good Vibrations: The Cowboys lost three valuable rookies early in training camp last year for the season to torn ACLs. All three, LB DeMarvion Overshown, TE John Stephens Jr. and WR David Durden, while still rehabbing, figure to be ready for the start of training camp. "I don't ever recall having a personnel meeting talking so glowingly about those three guys coming back . . . they look great." They really do.
  • Then There's Diggs: Remember, the Pro Bowl corner was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 23, having torn his ACL during that week's practice. Played just two games. He didn't have his surgery until the last week of October. The corner is just seven months removed, still rehabbing, and seeming to be doing a much better job this week than last week. Still, Diggs would seem to be a prime candidate for PUP to start camp, mostly because he can spend another couple of weeks continuing his rehab in camp as he will for the majority of these next six dead weeks before the July 23 start to camp. Expectations, though, have him ready for the season, McCarthy saying of Diggs, "We'll respect the timeline . . . he's in a good spot," and of course he is while being worked hard by Cowboys associate trainer Britt Brown, rehab specialist. And that's good because at this point the top three corners working with the first team defense are DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis and the inexperienced Nahshon Wright. Keep an eye out for fifth-round pick Caelen Carson. Oh, and last year's sixth-rounder Eric Scott, just as he did last year during camp, was all around the ball on the competitive 7-on-7 drills while working with the second team defense.
  • MiniShots: Just ask Ezekiel Elliott about Brown's rehab work, saying when asked how much Britt meant to him during his previous final two years with the Cowboys dealing with knee issues before released and playing last year with New England, missing just two games of those 34 in 2021 and 2022, "Britt is family to me . . . he was with me every step of the way." . . . One of the best plays during the 7-on-7 two-minute drill involved QB Trey Lance connecting with Jalen Tolbert on a honey of a deep pass with an overhead catch to the 10-yard line while angling out of bounds to stop the clock . . . Lot of talk about Deuce lining up as a wide receiver in the slot, but Wednesday he was getting a lot of snaps at running back, catching the ball out of the backfield during team drills, along with reenacting some two back from last season that involved Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle . . . And let's face facts with these OTA and minicamp workouts: Caution against making any hard evaluations on individual player performances, except for what McCarthy likes to call the "perimeter" game, meaning quarterbacks hooking up with wide receivers and defensive backs in coverage, and saw that competition heat up Wednesday with some highly competitive 7-on-7 work.

And this week's last word, and there will be very few words spoken over the next six weeks with the players breaking for the summer after Thursday's final, non-practice minicamp session, we turn to veteran, seven-time first team All Pro Zack Martin, since McCarthy pointed out Wednesday that Zack is like E.F. Hutton for the young O-Linemen. When he talks everyone listens.

Well, he caught everyone's attention on Tuesday when ask about how long he thinks he'll continue playing since the nine-time Pro Bowl guard is entering the last year of his contract in this his 11th season and turning 34 on Nov. 20th.

"I think I'd be lying if I said it has not entered my mind, right?" Martin said of the possibility this could be his final season. "I think that's been a big thing for me this year, just try to tell myself, 'Hey, go out, do your thing and let anything else take care of itself after the season.' I don't know when I'll be done, but it's definitely getting closer to the end."

That is a solid outlook, since we've always been told, if you are thinking about retiring then you've already retired.

"I think it's just a good reminder for myself to stay in the present and take advantage of this year," Martin reasoned.

See there, we sure are listening, Zack.

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