OXNARD, Calif. – You can forgive linebacker Micah Parsons if he gets a little dizzy during Dallas Cowboys training camp.
The team’s first-round draft pick in 2021 is always on the move.
Here’s a real-world example: Parsons opened coverage drills working as the middle linebacker for a few snaps, then jogging to the other end of the field for pass rush drills, working first outside against an offensive tackle and then inside as a middle linebacker flashing up the middle. From there he jogged back to the coverage drills and posed as the linebacker of the strong side.
Parson’s versatility was a big part of the reason the Cowboys dumped him in 12th place overall, and nothing stopped them from how to use him based on what they’ve seen so far.
“The nice thing about the spring was that he got to practice, you had a chance to see where some of his strengths lie,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. “So that was a fair bit for me as we went through spring and then summer where I could bargain and look at some packages and see how we could present him in any way … To his credit, him worked hard. There are very few busts on its end. “
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After the initial practice session at Oxnard, coach Mike McCarthy said that from the package standpoint, they did too much with Parsons by keeping track of numbers that monitor how much distance the player has traveled and how fast their heart rate is racing.
“You don’t want to make him too thin because he’s unique,” McCarthy said. “You can tell right away that you forget your size and strength, especially with some of his pieces in space and in recreation.”
Parsons (6-foot-3, 248 pounds) doesn’t seem to mind. He is ready to try anything. After signing out of Penn State last season, he’s glad to be back on the soccer field and tries to fit in with whatever Quinn wants him to be.
“DQ is someone who is hard to impress,” said Parsons. “I don’t think he’s ever satisfied. He always wants you to get better and better, so this is the type of coach you want to be under. Every day he comes to me with something new that he wants to do with me. “I don’t take it as something bad. I see it as an honor, because that’s how much he believes in me, my talents and what I’m in this team and can contribute to the defense. “
During McCarthy’s “TV timeouts” during practice, Parsons is almost always next to Quinn and given detailed instructions.
“When a player plays more than one position at times, there are some good guidelines that you should follow to make sure nothing is really lost,” said Quinn. “If you play corner and always play with the corners, you get pretty much all the information for that spot. For him, where it has a pass rush background and certainly a great linebacker background, I can get some of the space on the Fill out the Pass Rush page so a lot of our conversations will go there.
“It’s also a good check-in for our location … and be very aware, on this day we want to work on things here.”
The more Parsons can master, the more flexible the cowboys can be on defense, especially as they mix and match the rest of the linebackers like Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Keanu Neal. It can also create confusion for an opposing offense, as it may not know if Parsons is rushing the passer-by or losing cover.
“I just take it in how he wants me to do it so I can keep getting better,” said Parsons. “When he obviously does everything he can to stay with me and, ‘Hey, do you get that? Do you need help?’ Almost anything, whether it’s a playbook or life, he’s someone who checks me out every day. I just take it the way he really believes in me and sees that I’m doing great things this year. “