Dallas Cowboys standout rookie linebacker Micah Parsons was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, the team announced.
Parsons is unable to practice Wednesday. He is "unlikely to be available" for the team's Week 18 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, per the team's website.
Parsons can return in time to play in Saturday's game if he's fully vaccinated. Players who are fully vaccinated can still test out of the NFL's protocols if they turn in two negative COVID-19 tests in a 24-hour period. If Parsons is unvaccinated, he would be required to miss five days before he can return, making him unavailable for Saturday's contest.
The news comes as the virus makes its way through the team's linebacking crew. Francis Bernard and Keanu Neal both hit the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the team's Week 17 game.
Micah Parsons becomes the third Cowboys linebacker to enter COVID-19 protocol recently. Francis Bernard and Keanu Neal the others. Leighton Vander Esch and Luke Gifford are the only LBs on 53-man roster who will practice today. https://t.co/DfY3gEvcxP
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 5, 2022
Parsons, 22, is considered the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He's combined for 84 tackles, including 13 sacks, during a phenomenal rookie season. Parsons has also performed well in pass coverage, not allowing a passing touchdown all season, per PFF.
Micah Parsons this season:
⭐️ 0 TDs allowed in coverage (284 snaps)
⭐️ 88.7 PFF Grade (1st among all LBs)
⭐️ 93.0 pass-rushing grade (Best in NFL) pic.twitter.com/Lq7G9IVzuU
— PFF (@PFF) January 5, 2022
Parsons is considered a strong candidate to win Defensive Player of the Year, according to BetMGM. Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt is the only player with better odds.
Cowboys already secured a playoff spot
The Cowboys already clinched the NFC East, so Week 18 is not a must-win game. At 11-5, the Cowboys sit in the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. Dallas could move up to the No. 3 or No. 2 spot in the NFC, though that would require help from a number of teams.
The Cowboys' first playoff game would take place Jan. 15 at the earliest, giving Parsons 10 days to be removed from protocols before he returns to the field.