In an effort to improve a woeful defense, the Dallas Cowboys are experimenting with first-round pick Micah Parsons at defensive end.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn plans to utilize the rookie’s diverse skill set in his “DPR” position — designated pass rusher — in addition to middle linebacker duties.
“Just creating havoc, creating disruption,” Parsons said on playing DPR, via the Dallas Morning News. “Being able to create that excitement, momentum change, a chance to get the ball out and get it back to our explosive offense. That’s kind of what I like about pass rushing.”
Having Parsons play a pass-rushing role in certain situations will help the Cowboys get their best 11 defenders on the field. With a glut of linebackers, including Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and converted safety Keanu Neal, Parson’s ability to rush the passer should keep him on the field for three downs from the jump.
Dallas’ primary edge rushers are star Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory entering the season. Parsons hopes to add another dimension as a blitzer as well.
“Last week we were watching film of pass rush and D-Law came up to me and was like, ‘You pass rush like that, rook?'” Parsons said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I used to be a defensive end.’ He was like, ‘All right, tap in with me.’ Me and him have been getting closer. If he’s out there, he’ll help me out and we’ll talk a little bit. Coming up here after OTAs are over, we’re going to work together before camp starts.”
According to reporters at minicamp — which opened Tuesday — Parsons displayed burst off the edge and a knack for getting in the backfield in his pass-rush and blitzing situations. Using Parsons as a rusher gives Dallas enhanced flexibility to move the linebacker around the formation and free up defenders to swarm the backfield.
Under Quinn, the plan is to use Parson’s athletic ability in a vast array of situations. It’s a lot to put on the plate of a rookie, but the Cowboys are confident the No. 12 overall pick can handle the workload as they attempt to fix a broken defense.
“Honestly, the last two weeks have been a big transition phase for me,” Parsons said. “Obviously learning more checks, being more vocal, playing a new position, actually playing multiple positions. It has been pretty hectic for me, but I think each and every day I’m picking up something and just going out there making early mistakes. That way I’m creating a base and a ground, getting ready for camp.”
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