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Cowboys' John Fassel on Micah Parsons returning kicks: 'He would be fantastic'

There's a new and intriguing kickoff rule set to debut in the NFL in the 2024 season.

Might it open up new opportunities for some high-profile players? Perhaps.

Might one of them be Dallas Cowboys do-it-all defensive dynamo Micah Parsons? Perhaps not.

Discussing the upcoming changes to kickoffs, Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel admitted he'd love to have the playmaking Parsons back to return kicks, but he knows that's truly fantasy football.

"You know Micah. So, he has lobbied me in the past to just be the primary kickoff returner," Fassel said on a recent edition of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. "I'm like, Micah, that's the question you got to go a little further up than me on that one. But would I love to see him back there? Absolutely, because he would be fantastic. He would catch it and he'd run wild and he'd probably get incredible yards. But that ain't going to happen. I'm aware of that."

Parsons is one of the most dominant defenders in all the NFL land and one of the finest players in the league overall. Due a big money second contract in the future, Parsons isn't about to be put into peril returning kicks, but it's nice to imagine the possibilities.

Exceptional as an off-ball backer and a pass rusher, Parsons has been a Pro Bowler in each of his three seasons and is a two-time All-Pro. His mix of power, speed and versatility leads the mind to wander just what other aspects of the game who could excel at.

However, the 24-year-old's played just 15 special teams snaps over three years -- with 14 coming as a rookie and just one in 2023.

Still, Fassel can dream and he knows Parsons would likely shine returning kicks or covering them. Fassell first glimpsed Parsons doing the latter while scouting Penn State during his time with the Los Angeles Rams.

"I remember watching Micah on kickoff coverage at Penn State as a freshman because I was scouting Nick Scott, a player we had drafted to the Rams," Fassel said. "Then I was looking at Cam Brown also, but 'Who's that guy on kickoff' when [Parsons] was a freshman. Then, you know, you look him up, I don't know who he is, but he'll probably be alright someday. But Micah has asked about being a primary kickoff returner, that hasn't been allowed yet, probably not going to be allowed unless you say, 'Hey, you know in the game we're down by six and there's eight seconds left in the game and we got to score a touchdown and kick return to win it?' Maybe we put Micah back there as a second returner."

Maybe. But it's next door to certain that Parsons won't be returning kicks for the Cowboys anytime soon.

The quandary was presented by Tucker as he and Fassel addressed the new kickoff rule and just how much it will affect the game in 2024 after kickoff returns basically became extinct in 2023. In the upcoming season, all kicking players -- other than the kicker -- will line up at the receiving team's 40-yard line. The team cannot move until the kickoff hits the ground or a player in the landing zone (between the receiving team's goal line and 20-yard line) or end zone. The rule will surely increase the amount of kickoff returns and could even see teams go back to fielding two returners.

While Parsons becoming a second returner is certainly an intriguing prospect, the Cowboys have former Pro Bowler KaVontae Turpin. Turpin's presence, combined with the comeback of the kick return, has Fassel excited.

"I mean there's so much to dive into which is cool because the creative part of the game is going to go way up," Fassel said. "Last year, to be honest, we ran one kickoff return the entire season because we knew we were going to return one ball every two games. You know, Kavante Turpin had 10 returns on kickoffs the whole season. So, it's changing the whole game for us as coaches and players, which is good."

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