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Cowboys sideline report: Micah Parsons’ rising popularity, Amari Cooper’s extra protection and more

Plus, a full rundown of Cowboys Hall of Famers in attendance on Monday.

Cowboys’ rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons is “en fuego” by NFL standards.

How hot is he? So hot that as the final seconds were ticking of the clock of Dallas’ 41-21 win over the Eagles, a football operations staff member was bringing an extra Parsons No. 11 jersey to the sideline for Parsons to take to midfield for a postgame jersey swap.

Parsons admitted to reporters during postgame interviews that he was “fanboying” over Eagles’ right tackle Lane Johnson. Parsons gushed over the fact that an established All-Pro like Johnson would ask for a rookie’s jersey. How good is Johnson? He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.

“[Johnson] is a guy I draft in Madden franchises and things like that,” said Parsons. “I thought he’s a great player and obviously, I think I got his respect. So, I was really excited when he asked me for my jersey … I was like, ‘Man, Lane Johnson asked for my jersey. Do you know how crazy that is?’”

The other Parsons’ jersey went to former Penn State teammate Miles Sanders, the Eagles running back.

If Parsons keeps playing as well as he’s played the first three games of the season, Cowboys equipment director Mike McCord better have a lot of extra No. 11 jerseys on standby for the remainder of the season.

On the subject of equipment:

Amari Cooper wore extra protective equipment for his ribs for the first time this season. Cooper suffered a cracked rib in the Week 1 loss at Tampa. But the equipment is not the old school, bulky flak jackets that quarterbacks would often wear back in the day (I’m picturing Dan Pastorini, but don’t want to give away my age).

The rib protector worn by Amari is made by EvoShield and the lightweight protector is sewn into a shirt. It’s the same type of rib protector that Dak Prescott wears on a regular basis, although Amari’s extra padding was sewn more towards the front of the shirt (in front of the lower part of the sternum, then towards Amari’s left rib cage). Dak’s extra protector is more to the side of the torso.

Cowboys equipment manager Bucky Buchanan notes that most mobile quarterbacks around the league wear rib protectors made by EvoShield. The company also makes much of the protective padding that you see baseball players wear when they step into the batter’s box to protect themselves from stray pitches.

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) wraps up Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) for a fourth quarter sack at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Monday, September 27, 2021. Middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) joined in on the defensive play.
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) wraps up Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) for a fourth quarter sack at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Monday, September 27, 2021. Middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) joined in on the defensive play. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Jaylon Smith, 007. Okay, well he’s no James Bond, but linebacker Jaylon Smith did get to do some spying on Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the game.

With Parsons playing defensive lineman instead of linebacker again this week, Smith once again was the primary signal caller for the defense. He was one of three Cowboys assigned the green dot, radio helmet along with Leighton Vander Esch and rookie Jabril Cox. Only one defensive player at a time can be on the field with a radio helmet. Parsons had assumed those duties in Week 1 when he was at linebacker, but Smith was back to relaying the play calls (which he’s done in previous seasons) in Weeks 2 and 3.

In the final couple of series in which the backups got snaps with the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter, Cox got to call the plays as Smith and Vander Esch were resting on the sideline.

Trevon Diggs’ interception return for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter was arguably the biggest play of Monday’s victory. It was a nice payoff for Diggs who in each of the first three weeks has shadowed the opponents’ top receiver. At Tampa, Diggs “traveled” with Mike Evans throughout the game. At the Chargers, Diggs took Keenan Allen. For Philly, it was his former teammate at Alabama, DeVonta Smith. Smith finished with only 3 catches (on 6 targets) for a meager 28 yards. Late in the game, there were two series in which Diggs switched off and cornerback Anthony Brown had Smith with safety help over the top (that included a play in which there was a big collision down the right sideline with the safety helping knock the pass away).

Kellen Moore is making the Cowboys’ offense a ‘must watch.’ When 315-pound backup guard Connor McGovern comes into the game at fullback – and it’s not a goal-line situation but near midfield – now we’re having some fun. McGovern, as a lead blocker, totally annihilated Eagles’ linebacker Alex Singleton; luckily there was no smudge to stain the turf. McGovern got a few snaps at fullback.

What’s the greatest sideline report you can hear on Cowboys Radio? The one I gave last night midway through the fourth quarter: “With the Cowboys up by 27 points, quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier has just come up to Cooper Rush on the Cowboys bench and told him to get ready because he’s going in the game for Dak.”

It’s fun to report good news from a happy sideline rather than be the harbinger of bad news with injury reports.

If you had told me before the game that Cooper Rush and backups like rookie fullback Nick Ralston would get fourth quarter “garbage time” snaps … and that Cox would be on the field with the green dot as backup defenders got snaps as the clock wound down … I’m not sure I would have believed you.

The closing minutes on Monday night resembled the third quarter of a preseason game with young guys getting valuable playing time. And just for the record, in the NFL regular season there really is no such thing as “garbage time” because it’s important that backups get as much experience as possible.

Hall of Famers. Finally, for long-time Cowboys fans, is there anything cooler than seeing the franchise greats gathered for a halftime ceremony honoring the latest Pro Football Hall of Fame members getting their rings?

Cliff Harris, Jimmy Johnson and Drew Pearson received their Hall of Fame rings, but the following Cowboys’ legends were there to honor them: Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Randy White, Tony Dorsett, Rayfield Wright, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley, Gil Brandt, and Jerry Jones.

More from Cowboys-Eagles

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‘They definitely felt us’: Cowboys impose their will on Eagles, send message to rest of NFC East

After putting Eagles away with pick-six, Trevon Diggs puts rest of league on notice: ‘I’m here’

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