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Cowboys news: Micah Parsons and Kyle Pitts, high school rivals turned friends meet on Sunday

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Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Years after high school hit, Falcons’ Kyle Pitts, Cowboys’ Micah Parsons meet again - Michael Rothstein, ESPN

High school rivals turned friends become rivals once again on Sunday.

It’s a play still remembered years later, bordering almost on legend now depending on whom you ask in Pennsylvania. Kyle Pitts and Micah Parsons had both made the state’s 5A title game in 2016.

Now they’d be facing each other.

On Sunday, Pitts’ Atlanta Falcons and Parsons’ Dallas Cowboys come together at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (1 p.m. ET, Fox) . Maybe they will discuss the play in question.

Because that play — that hit — it came with Parsons on offense for Harrisburg and Pitts on defense for Archbishop Wood. Pitts, now a tight end, said Parsons, now a linebacker, did a bit of everything in high school — then again, so did Pitts — so it became a big-time matchup.

And on that play, Pitts said he was on the left in the defensive formation and the run was coming to him. He shed the blocker “and I got Micah.”

Steve Devlin, Pitts’ high school coach: “Kyle kind of just picked him up and slammed him into the ground.”

1 Player on each NFL team who could break out before the 2021 season ends - Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report

Osa Odighizuwa hasn’t had a breakout season? If not, it’s been close to one so far.

Dallas Cowboys: DT Osa Odighizuwa

Osa Odighizuwa has taken advantage of his opportunities with defensive tackles Neville Gallimore (dislocated elbow) and Trysten Hill (torn ACL) recovering from injuries. He opened the season in a starting role and showed promise as an every-down defender.

The third-round pick is a key cog in the Dallas Cowboys’ 10th-ranked run defense and generates pressure on the interior of the defensive line. He’s notched 18 tackles (nine solo), four tackles for loss and two sacks while on the field for 63 percent of the snaps.

Though Gallimore and Hill could return to the rotation in the near future, Odighizuwa has probably carved out a steady role. Hill, who’s back on the practice field, has only started in five games through two seasons. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are being cautious with Gallimore’s rehab progress.

With his workload, Odighizuwa has a chance to finish the season as one of the most productive rookies at his position.

For the Cowboys to return to dominance, stopping run a top priority - Matthew Lenix, Cowboys Wire

Improving the run defense is definitely a top priority for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys’ defense only allowed 79.4 rushing yards per game in the first five weeks with just one team totaling 100 yards. Opposing teams gained 21 first downs running the ball against the Cowboys over that span which averaged out to about four per game and just over one per quarter.

Over the last three games, the Cowboys’ defense has given up 137 yards per game with every opponent gaining over 100 yards. Opponents have gained 22 first downs on the ground during that time, a little over seven per game.

Stopping the run is the first priority of any defense. The Cowboys were able to dominate opponents early on in the season by making them one-dimensional. By physically imposing their will at the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys gained a mental edge against the teams they faced.

Cowboys vs. Falcons: Each team’s X-factor player for Sunday - Tony Catalina, Blogging The Boys

Who will be the X-factor for the Cowboys and Falcons in Week 10?

Dallas Cowboys X-Factor:

Terence Steele

For the second week in a row, all eyes will be on the backup tackle and his performance. His first showing was not one that left many inspired, and there was discussion among fans about what alternative solutions may be available to the Cowboys moving forward.

Most indications are that the Cowboys will be without Tyron Smith at left tackle for another week. Due to this week’s opponent being the Falcons, bad memories are creeping in from the last time the two teams played with a backup at the left tackle spot for the Cowboys. However this team is different, this staff is different, and this staff has made enough right decisions this year to feel good about the fact that they will make the necessary changes needed to allow for Steele to go out there and be successful. Long term, Steele is not the solution at left tackle, but in the short term in moments like this, all eyes will be on Steele as his play will be the X-Factor for the Cowboys on Sunday.

‘Growing pains: Are Day Prescott’s Cowboys ready for Falcons developing D? - Mike Fisher, Cowboys Maven

After being embarrassed by the Broncos defense, the Cowboys offense better be ready.

The Atlanta Falcons will face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at AtT&T Stadium, and the home team should be aware: the 4-4 Falcons have improved as the season has marched on in large part because of their defense.

“I know everybody wants immediate gratification,” Atlanta defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “Don’t we all? But sometimes you gotta go through some growing pains.”

“You’ve gotta stay the course.”

Year over year, Atlanta has improved from 29th to 17th in total defense and from dead last in passing defense in 2020 to 13th after eight games in 2021.

The Falcons defense gave up over 400 yards twice in its first four games while only doing so once in its last four. It’s no coincidence that Atlanta has flipped its record over that period from 1-3 to 3-1.

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