An early exit from the playoffs marked a disappointing end to what had been a promising season for the Cowboys. Much of that promise came from Micah Parsons, their top rookie who vastly outperformed all expectations and became a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
If you thought that Parsons’ rookie year couldn’t get any more impressive, think again. Parsons revealed during a Wednesday live stream with Bleacher Report that he actually had a lingering injury for the duration of the 2021 season.
Micah Parsons said on @BleacherReport live that he hyperextended his knee in the training camp practice with the Rams. Bothered him all season. "It was just something that kept lingering. When you hyperextend something it needs rest. But I was like, 'I can't take no rest.'"— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 9, 2022
So you’re saying that the Micah Parsons we saw this year - the one who broke DeMarcus Ware’s franchise rookie sack record and finished the year with the fourth-most pressures and sixth-most sacks in the league - was limited?
Not only that, but Parsons says he sustained the hyperextended knee back during the team’s joint practices against the Rams. That happened after the Cowboys’ first preseason game against the Steelers, which means Parsons played in two more preseason games with this limitation before going on to play throughout the regular season.
The under-the-radar takeaway here is that Parsons has a certain level of toughness to him to play through all that and never once mention it. He was also logging a lot of snaps in these games, which is something to consider. Parsons played on 78% of the defensive snaps in the season opener and was then scaled back down to 55% and 64% in the next two games, respectively. But those two games were ones where Parsons was moved exclusively to the edge, and he was rotated out more because of it.
Since then, though, Parsons played on 86% or more of the defensive snaps in all but two games, with the two exceptions being blowout wins over Washington and Atlanta when all of the starters got pulled later in the game. The point is Parsons was not only playing with this injury, but he was logging a high amount of snaps.
The fact that he not only played through this injury but utterly dominated in just about every game should terrify every other NFL team. There was already plenty of reason to be in awe of what Parsons did, and there are some good arguments for him to be awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award over likely candidates Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt.
Now that we know this was what a limited Micah Parsons looks like, though, can you imagine what he’d be like at 100% health? When Parsons next takes the field in 2022, he will (presumably) be there, in addition to having spent a full offseason in the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning program. In other words, now is a good time to buy stock in Micah Parsons if you haven’t already. And if you have, buy some more.