OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons knows how good his rookie year was. But that, he says, was just the beginning.
"Last year, I was just trying to earn the respect of my fellow teammates, and fellow players across the league," he said. "This year, just want to go out there and dominate, now."
After a rookie year like he had, it's hard to imagine how, but Parsons is focused on improving.
"What you look for from the rookie class, going into the second year," head coach Mike McCarthy said, "we talk about it all the time, it's taking that second-year jump."
But how do you jump, when you're already so high? For Parsons, part of the equation is shedding a few pounds.
"Just fixed my diet up," he said. "Hung up the Chick-Fil-A, the Wendy's, and stuff like that. But I'm not no vegetarian, I'll tell you that."
Parsons says he maxed out at 254 pounds last year, and usually played at around 251. But now he is weighing in at a svelte, agile 244. Which is key, when he goes about trying to incite even more havoc in 2022.
"Just creating more turnovers, getting my hands on the ball," Parsons said. "I've been focusing on my hands, and my coverage. I'm trying to eliminate all weaknesses in my game."
Weaknesses? What weaknesses?
"I wouldn't say I had like, a lot of weakness," he said, in a remarkably honest assessment. "But just not understanding the full concepts of every defense. So, I was going through growing pains throughout the year, sometimes guessing. But now that I know and figured it out, I just feel way more relaxed."
If that was what Parsons looked like while he was guessing, what can he do now?
"If I can eliminate a few extra steps that I ain't have to take, then those can be TFLs, sacks, or however you may look at it," he said.
And with Parsons ability to play multiple positions, and impact the game plan from both linebacker and defensive end, the potential is limitless in year #2 and beyond.
"The ability to play rush responsibility from the linebacker, and play linebacker responsibility from the defensive line position," McCarthy said. "That flexibility, it's a recognition of his abilities, because he can do all of that."
Doing more than he has already won't be easy. But he's focused -- "we're all shooting for the stars, right now", he said -- and he doesn't seem like the guy you want to doubt.