Cowboys News: McCarthy switching things up for Winter, Parsons ranked above all peers

December means added stress and lots of extra hustle and bustle… unless you’re a Dallas Cowboy. We’ll go inside Coach McCarthy’s famed “winter schedule” to learn the thinking behind players practicing less, right when the football means the most. We’ll also find out what Dan Quinn thinks about facing his old quarterback now that they’re both with new teams. And we’ll get into what the Cowboys offense is doing to cut down on false start penalties.

Meanwhile, Micah Parsons tops another list, Tony Pollard is making a case for a monster payday, and Tarell Basham’s release is a signal of a coming roster move… just not the one Cowboys Nation is breathlessly waiting for. We’re looking at power rankings and playoff predictions, and we’re listening to the sounds from the sideline during a Thanksgiving Day feast of a division rival. All that, plus which Buffalo Bills star is getting pressured into taking his skills to Dallas… by his model wife? News and Notes, coming right up…

Cowboys enter Mike McCarthy’s ‘winter schedule’ as December football looms :: Dallas Morning News

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The team’s “winter schedule” began Monday. Shorter practices. Less time on the field. Getting away from the facility. Reducing stress. Staying fresh when the football matters most. McCarthy says he’s always done it, and it works. The Cowboys went 5-1 after Thanksgiving with this approach last season, outscoring opponents 204-108 along the way.

Cowboys waive defensive end Tarell Basham :: Cowboys Wire

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Basham saw just 26 snaps in two games this season, after missing a good deal of time with a quad injury suffered in the season opener. The veteran’s release still leaves six outstanding ends on the roster, not to mention linebacker Micah Parsons, who often moonlights at end, too.

Cowboys release of DE indicator of coming roster move, but not likely Beckham :: Cowboys Wire

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Basham’s cutting frees up a roster spot, but the move came far too early to signal any sort of corresponding action on the OBJ front. It could mean that Tyron Smith is about to be activated, though… or James Washington. But the real likelihood is that Takk McKinley is about to get called up. Or maybe Rico Dowdle or Simi Fehoko or someone else entirely. But it’s definitely not about Odell Beckham.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones isn’t worried about Odell Beckham Jr. visiting other teams :: Dallas Morning News

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The owner is confident that the Cowboys make for an attractive package, even if Beckham is going to get wined and dined in New York and Buffalo before he sits down with the Dallas front office. “I know what football means to this area. And I do know that we’re the most visible team,” Jones said. “Everybody likes to be part of something that is substantive, and that’s the Cowboys.”

Cowboys taking added steps to halt penalties :: The Mothership

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The offense spent extra time Monday doing “cadence work,” with coaches mimicking Dak Prescott’s snap count in an effort to cut down on the number of false starts. “We can’t have any pre-snap penalties,” said tackle Terence Steele. “They bite us in the butt.”

NFL Top 25 Under 25: Ranking best players 24 years old or younger :: ESPN+

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Forget that he’s just 23 years old, Parsons could well be the most dominant defensive player in the game, period. He’s only the third player since 1982 to record at least 12 sacks in each of his first two seasons (joining Reggie White and Aldon Smith), suggesting he could prove to be a true generational talent. He was an easy unanimous choice to top this list.

Cowboys DC Dan Quinn previews Colts: slowing Jonathan Taylor, facing Matt Ryan :: Cowboys Wire

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Quinn called his former quarterback “a tough-ass competitor,” but knows the Colts may elect to lean on running back Jonathan Taylor come Sunday night. “This will be our third one in a row of guys that can really make the big plays,” he said. But the coordinator has seen his Dallas defense improve of late, and is encouraging them “to get it on and accept new challenges and try to go smash it.”

Power Rankings: Dallas firmly among NFL's top 5 :: The Mothership

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The Ringer has Dallas slotted at No. 4, while CBS Sports pencils them in at the five spot; both are upward moves. But curiously, NFL.com has the Cowboys slipping from No. 3 to No. 4, despite notching two wins over playoff teams last week alone.

NFL Playoffs: Predicting final 6 weeks for Cowboys, Eagles, all NFC contenders :: Cowboys Wire

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Looking into the crystal ball at the nine NFC teams realistically in play for the postseason, the Cowboys manage to steal a first-round bye with a 14-3 regular season record. The seventh-seed Giants then knock off Minnesota in a primetime matchup on Wild Card Weekend to force a third New York-Dallas tilt of the year.

Cowboys feast in Sounds from the Sideline :: Dallas Cowboys (Twitter)

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Tony Pollard is worth the price, and Cowboys should consider paying it :: Pro Football Network

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The analytics say Pollard isn’t just good, he’s elite, ranking in the top three leaguewide in multiple major categories. The Cowboys paid a pretty penny to lock up Ezekiel Elliott; now they should find a way to restructure his deal in order to also keep Pollard for the long haul.

Jordan Poyer’s wife, Rachel Bush, hints at Cowboys curiosity in free agency :: New York Post

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The wife of the Bills’ star safety was asked in an Instagram “ask me anything” session if she could convince her husband to be a Dallas Cowboy. “He knows I wanna live in Texas,” Rachel Bush replied, adding with a raised-eyebrow emoji, “FA [free agent] this year.” The 11-year veteran is in the final year of his contract in Buffalo.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire