OXNARD, Calif. — One of the more fascinating aspects of Micah Parsons' game is the way the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is able to transition between the defensive line and the linebacking corps.
The Dallas Cowboys' 2021 first-round pick was used as a quick fix for the defense's edge rusher problems early in 2021 as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory were unavailable in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
In that contest, Parsons generated two tackles, a tackle for loss, four quarterback hits, and 1.0 sack through 39 snaps on defense, predominantly taken as a down lineman. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn continued to rely on Parsons' versatility as an edge rusher, and the rookie generated 13.0 sacks.
Parsons was going in between the defensive line and linebacker meeting rooms during the regular season. Splitting time between meetings has not stopped.
“I’m probably in there probably the same amount as the special teams period," Parsons told reporters on July 29. "I’m in the D-line room, we’re going through two-minute things, going through pass rush things, and then during the regular individual periods, I’m with the linebackers. I’m doing both everyday. Just trying to make sure I’m not losing nothing on either position.”
Parsons collected 84 combined tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 30 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, and three pass breakups through 16 games, all of which he started.
Even though the Cowboys are getting a look at Parsons in his second training camp, the 23-year-old still finds ways to surprise the coaching staff.
"He’s unique, just no doubt," coach Mike McCarthy said. "His speed and his quickness and his strength, the combination of having it all. There’s not a day that there’s not a play that particularly in his pursuit and his finish, just the way he takes away angles and he breaks on the football. He’s super instinctive and slippery in the phonebooth. So, I mean, he just has a lot of natural, instinctive playmaking ability. But obviously he’s very, very impressive.”
Parsons appreciates the time he spends going between the two position meetings and finds no negatives in having to partition the information. If anything, Parsons is melding the information to have a broad-spectrum for understanding how the defense works.
"I really don’t think there’s any negatives to it. I just think there is nothing but the game. It’s not like we have a whole new playbook where I got to try to learn these things. I’m just enhancing my knowledge for the game, understanding where do I have to be aligned as a defensive end, where do I have to be aligned as a linebacker. I’m just only making myself better and making my intangibles better," said Parsons.
If the Cowboys are able to have a better Parsons in 2022, it will keep opposing offensive coordinators anxious throughout the season.
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