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A Return to Real Men’s Soccer with Mick Shots

This week, the pads arrived for the first time during camp on two consecutive days, followed by what head coach Mike McCarthy refers to as a “sham game” workout on Wednesday that was more like a walk-through before two additional padded exercises on Thursday and Friday.

The cushioning drills that come before putting the player on the ground with the ball are the real thing in men’s soccer. Once you understand what a hit is, all you have to do is hit them open.

McCarthy stated, “I want it turned up,” before the padded session on Monday. “I want to see the fur fly. I’d want the juice.

The Cowboys swiftly discovered on Monday and again on Tuesday that injuries come with flying hair and rushing sap.

Raise the threshold: The Cowboys quickly recognized the lack of depth at the linebacker position and settled with ninth-year veteran Anthony Barr, a former Minnesota Vikings first-round draft pick in 2014. Here was the concern. If the Cowboys played a 4-3 base defense with three linebackers, it would include Leighton Vander Esch at center, Micah Parsons at an outside point and…and…who? Could have been Jabril Cox, who came back from a cruciate ligament rupture last year as a rookie.

Sobering may have been that Cox missed Tuesday and Wednesday training with knee pain expected, although he is also expected to return soon. In early July, the Cowboys had shown an interest in Barr. Of some concern, Barr has only played 13 games over the past two seasons, only two in 2020 after a pectoral tear and six in 2021 with a knee and hamstring.

Also of concern is that the Vikings have restructured the five-year, $67.5 million package, including $33 million guaranteed, that he signed in 2019. To do that, they allowed Barr to waive the last two years by freeing up the cap space by reducing his base salary for 2021 of his contract.

Doing so now will cost the Vikings $9.89 million in dead money this year. The Cowboys should have an inside look at Barr, the current senior defensive assistant who was in charge of linebacker George Edwards, the Vikings’ defensive coordinator, for the first six seasons (2014-19) of Barr’s career.