Why Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy isn’t happy with All-Pro edge rusher Micah Parsons

Coach Mike McCarthy is well versed in Dallas Cowboys history and legendary vernacular.

And so he used to the infamous line from former Cowboys linebacker Darrin Hambrick to try to lighten the mood while trying to deflect a frustrating conversation about edge rusher Micah Parsons.

A three-time All-Pro and the consensus best player on the team, Parsons missed the first two phases of the voluntary offseason program and then showed up for offseason training activities (OTAs) on Wednesday for the first time.

But he did participate in on-field drills.

Parsons was a no show again on Thursday.

What do voluntary mean?” McCarthy said with a light chuckle.

But it was clear that he is not happy with Parsons’ continued absences, especially considering that there was seemingly an understanding that he would be a full participant when he showed up.

“Not doing attendance,” McCarthy said. ”I’m not gonna come up and talk about one player, especially when 98 percent of the guys are here.”

McCarthy is frustrated, but he also knows there is a long time between now, training camp and the start of the season.

This is not the first time Parsons has missed the offseason program.

He trained on his own last year and had another stellar season. He has finished in the top three in NFL Defensive Player of Year voting in each of his first three seasons.

He came back in great shape last season and he looks to be in great shape now.

Parsons has been in communication with the coaches and McCarthy spent a lot of time with them last Friday.

The big difference in 2024 is the Cowboys are installing a new defense with Mike Zimmer replacing Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator.

“Micah looks to be in really good shape,” McCarthy said. “But it’s a new defense. We have work to do.

“He’s engaged. We will be ready when it’s time.”

McCarthy had no problem with Parsons spending the early part of May in China and Japan taking an advantage of a unique opportunity to be an ambassador for the game of the football.

The biggest disconnect for Parsons is he is missing an opportunity to bond with his teammates and show some leadership a few months after responding to the season-ending playoff to loss to the Green Bay Packers with a promise of changing team’s and getting players to lock in.

“I think any time you have a chance to be together it’s an opportunity to improve, whether it’s in the mental realm, the physical realm, which is limited obviously this time of year but also the emotional connection and so forth,” McCarthy said. “But it’s it’s a long year. Training camp is really the heightened focus for all that. But it’s definitely an opportunity that’s been missed.”

What do voluntary mean indeed.