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Cowboys news: Former Cowboys lineman Ralph Neely passes, won two Super Bowls with Dallas

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Former Cowboys offensive lineman Ralph Neely dies at 78 - Charean Williams, PFT

Ralph Neely played 13 years for the Cowboys and was among the best of his time.

He was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the second round of the 1965 AFL draft and by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1965 NFL draft. The Colts traded his NFL contractual rights to the Cowboys in exchange for Billy Lothridge and a fourth-round selection in 1966.

Neely signed with the Oilers before the Cowboys acquired his rights. He returned his check to the Oilers and joined the Cowboys, and the Oilers sued. The teams resolved the lawsuit in 1966 as part of the NFL-AFL merger.

Neely played until 1977, appearing in five Super Bowls and winning two rings. The Cowboys’ Super Bowl XII win over the Broncos was the final game of Neely’s career.

He earned all-rookie honors, three first-team All-Pro awards and twice made the Pro Bowl.

Neely played right tackle his first five seasons and left tackle for his final eight.

He ranks 11th in Cowboys history with 168 games started.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons Placed on Reserve/COVID-19 List Before Week 18 vs. Eagles - Tim Daniels, Bleacher Report

Micah Parsons has been a revelation for the Dallas Cowboys defense, putting together one of the most impactful rookie campaigns in recent memory for a defender. His regular season, however, appears to be over a week early following a positive COVID-19 test.

The Dallas Cowboys announced Wednesday linebacker Micah Parsons was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of Saturday’s Week 18 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Parsons, the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite, has recorded 84 total tackles, 13 sacks, three passes defended and three forced fumbles in 16 appearances during his debut season.

Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons drawing MVP consideration as ‘most versatile player’ - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram

T.J. Watt might be the favorite at this point to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, but Micah Parsons is absolutely deserving of legitimate consideration, something he himself is more than aware of.

Picked 12th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Parsons has played all over the field as a linebacker, defensive end and inside pass rusher. He has led the transformation of a defense that went from one of the worst in franchise history in 2020 into one that is leading the NFL in turnovers and ranks seventh in points allowed, helping the Cowboys (11-5) win the NFC East title. “I take complete pride in being the most versatile player in the NFL,” Parsons said. “I think I would put myself up there with the elite guys around the league in terms of impacting the game. It definitely hasn’t been a one-man job. The DBs help me a lot being able to hold the receivers so that way I can get the pressure and sacks and things like that. [But] I think I do a lot of very different things on the defense that change the game.”

And it’s not like Parsons doesn’t have sensational stats of his own, especially for a rookie. He leads the Cowboys with 13 sacks, 30 quarterback hits and a league-leading 20 tackles for loss. He also has three forced fumbles and three pass deflections. With 84 tackles, Parsons is the first player in the NFL in nine seasons to have at least 13 sacks and more than 80 tackles. And he needs two sacks in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night to break Jevon Kearse’s 22-year-old rookie sack record of 14.5. But Parsons’ versatility is really what sets him apart as he does whatever the team needs him to do.

Report: Cowboys, NFL have discussed AT&T Stadium as Super Bowl backup site - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

The league is looking for a backup plan in case California’s COVID restrictions don’t allow for the robust attendance the NFL would like to see for the Super Bowl. A possible alternate? AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA reports that the NFL has had an exchange with the Dallas Cowboys regarding AT&T Stadium as a replacement host site for Super Bowl LVI if needed. Mike Leslie of the station cites a source in the team’s front office in the report.

The championship game is currently slated to be played Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles. There is nothing currently on the official schedule for that date at the Cowboys’ home venue in Arlington, which hosted Super Bowl XLV in early 2011.

According to the team source, Leslie writes, “the source did inquire about a date if [the] stadium is available. But that’s all I’ve ever heard. They could be just covering all options just in case.”

K Greg Zuerlein is Cowboys’ Biggest Liability Going Into Playoffs - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

While the offense has remained a major point of debate for the Cowboys’ postseason hopes, the kicker position cannot be overlooked. We know the offense can be elite. We know the defense is elite. The kicker? He can be good.

In his second season with Dallas, the 34-year-old veteran has essentially copy and pasted his poor 2020 stats. He’s made 28 of 34 field goals for 82.4% (82.9% last year) and struggled again with extra points; hitting just 87.8% this year after 91.7% in 2020.

For perspective, among kickers who’ve played in at least five games or more this year, Zuerlein’s currently ranked 21st in field goals and 25th in extra points.

Beyond the stats, we’ve now reached the dreaded “uneasy feeling” point whenever Greg enters the game. We’re a long way from the days of automatic Dan Bailey; Cowboys Nation now breathes a collective sigh of relief when Zuerlein’s kicks make it through the uprights.

Sometimes Greg can still pull of a heroic act, such as his 56-yard game winner in Week 2 against the Chargers or that amazing onside kick last year against the Falcons. But his missed kicks in other games have, at least mathematically, been the difference between potential wins and frustrating losses.

Jerry Jones on the loss vs. Arizona and the ‘blueprint’ on Dak Prescott - SportsDay Staff, Dallas Morning News

Officiating was once again a major point of discussion following a disappointing three-point loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. Jerry Jones addressed the concerns as only he can.

What did you think of some of the referee calls from Sunday’s loss?

Jones: “They were, the calls themselves, were at a bad time and they stopped our possessions. They stopped our drives. They stopped us from getting our rhythm, if you will, and those — holding calls can do that now. To me, they’re one of the, if not the biggest drive stopper or keeping from getting your feet under you and really getting something going. They could be number one. It’s been a challenge for us. We got to do better in the playoffs on our basic calls, on maintaining possession, keeping our possession.”

Is there any concern that the guys are going to lack accountability for how they played versus just blaming it on the referees?

Jones: “Not at all. Not at all. Each of those guys are sitting there every snap is a state of mind. You’re trying to do the very best job on that snap, trying to execute it, trying to get your assignment right, and beat the guy in front of you. ‘Get man,’ so to speak as far as the offensive line is concerned. Get a man. No, there’s none, none in my mind a concern about thinking using calls as a crutch against executing in a performance, none at all.”

Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse brings ‘dog mentality,’ versatility to linebacker role - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

Jayron Kearse has more than exceeded the Cowboys’ expectations this season, becoming an indispensable piece of the defense. The question now, is what can the team do to retain his services this offseason?

Safety Jayron Kearse has often played linebacker in certain subpackages and situations this season. On Sunday, he saw more time in the box than usual against the Arizona Cardinals, as Dallas had only three true linebackers in uniform.

Keanu Neal, tested daily as one of few Cowboys players not vaccinated, recently contracted COVID-19 for a second time this season and missed his third game as a result. Francis Bernard also was out with COVID-19 and a groin injury.

That meant more of Kearse at linebacker.

“It brings great value,” Parsons said. “Jayron since coming in has been a great leader. Since coming in, Jayron has been a great person to know, great person to talk to. He brings that dog mentality, killer instinct.

What’s wrong with the Cowboys’ sputtering offense and how can it be fixed? - Nate Sanchez, Dallas Sports Fanatic

There’s no one easy answer to this question.

The recent struggles in the passing game can be blamed on everyone involved. No one is free of blame. The play-calling has been predictable, the pass-catchers aren’t playing to their lofty standards, and Prescott is not playing to his standard either. The timing often seems off.

There is often miscommunication where Prescott is clearly throwing a different route than his receiver is running. Look no further than the third and nine that preceded the Zuerlein missed field goal, as Prescott either missed Amari Cooper or Prescott was expecting Cooper to work a bit more towards the middle. Those are crucial mistakes that leave points on the field.

Since Week 11, Dallas ranks 19th in dropback EPA, 19th in dropback success rate

Things looked sharper in the second half and in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys cannot afford these slow starts when the games begin to really matter.

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