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Cowboys' Micah Parsons: 'Queen on The Chess Board'

Micah Parsons, the first-round rookie, looks like the starting middle linebacker for "America's Team.'' On chess and his "drastic improvement'' ...

OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys don't exactly say it. But every day here in training camp in Oxnard, they show it.

Micah Parsons, the first-round rookie, looks like the starting middle linebacker for "America's Team.''

And yet he is a "chess piece'' who, the Cowboys are discovering, can do so much more.

"You want to kind of be like 'The Queen on the Board,'" Parsons said this week as Dallas prepares for its second NFL preseason outing, Friday at Arizona. "You never want to be a rook, where you can only go straight or you can only go sideways. You want to be able to go diagonal. I think that's what makes the queen so strong. I just kind of want to be 'The Queen of Linebackers."

One has to at least partially understand the vernacular - "Queen of the Board''? - to understand the analogy. But Parsons, who is honing his chess skills against teammate Amari Cooper, really does fit it.

Wearing No. 11, it's easy to spot him at practice as he's provided big plays in workouts, just as he did last Thursday in the preseason-opening loss to the Steelers at Canton, with an early fumble recovery. He said "the Football Gods'' were responsible for the takeaway, but in truth, a player has to be in position to make plays.

Parsons, the Penn State product and 12th-overall pick in the NFL Draft, is in position. Lots of positions, as he lines up in a variety of spots for new coordinator Dan Quinn's defensive formation.

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"It's drastic,'' Parsons said of his quick development. "I kind of understand every coverage we're in, why we're running it, what situations we'll be in. ... I understand what we're trying to do, but now I want to understand what they're trying to do against me."

Parsons' football intellect is one of the reasons he's got a green dot on his helmet. That means he's got the transmitter in his helmet, so he's involved in play-calling in the huddle.

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"You do have a great responsibility because all 11 guys need to be on the same page, and everybody needs to understand what we're running and what we're going to do," he said. "It is a big responsibility because if you're not (on the same page), it can go very bad."

For Parsons, an add to last year's 31st-ranked NFL defense, it's going very well. He is a chess piece, and a valuable one - maybe a game-changer for Dallas. To get there, there is still so much to learn, which explains why, in this week's media visit, alongside the "queen'' analogy, he steered the conversation back to its rightful place.

When asked for more chess talk, Parsons replied, "I just think it's better if I just focus on football right now, and then after training camp I can get back into chess.''