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Rookie Micah Parsons at DE: Cowboys Matchup Nightmare

“Whether I'm rushing the quarterback or stuffing the run,” Micah says, “what I want to do, is be as dominant as possible."

Micah Parsons is a linebacker who used to be a running back who used to be a defensive end who used to almost return punts.

“The dude is a beast,” said Ezekiel Elliott after Parsons helped fuel the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 road win over the Chargers on Sunday in NFL Week 2. “He can be elite at linebacker. He can be elite at defensive end. I’m glad we got him on our team.”

Dallas found itself short-handed at defensive end this week with DeMarcus Lawrence d sidelined with a broken foot and with Randy Gregory on the COVID list. So coordinator Dan Quinn called upon Parsons, the No. 12 overall pick in the recent NFL Draft, to be a chess piece.

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“After practice (on Wednesday following the Lawrence injury), Coach Q came up to me and said, ‘Man we’re going to need you to step up big this week,’” Parsons said after Sunday’s game. “I said, ‘All right, coach. Let’s play.’”

“Step up big”? The stat sheet says it is so, as the Penn State product recorded two tackles, four quarterback hits and a critical sack of 18 yards on Justin Herbert late in the fourth quarter.

"I really wanted Herbert, so when I finally got to him I was happy about that," Parsons said. "I was chasing him all day.”

“All day” in a literal sense, as Parsons took all 39 of his snaps at end.

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"A lot of it was natural," he said before referencing the Chargers O-line. "Some people had a long day out there."

Even Dallas QB Dak Prescott, who engineered the last-minute drive to win, noticed.

"The fact of … being able to move him around – him off the edge, him at linebacker inside, wherever you put him," Prescott said. "He's a special guy and he's going to make plays."

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Going forward, will Micah be asked to make plays as a middle linebacker? An outside linebacker? A pass-rushing end?

Yes.

"My main mindset is to be dominant throughout the whole game," said Parsons, mentioning how he likes to “manipulate matchups … Play at a high level, and every time I'm out there, make a play – whether I'm rushing the quarterback or stuffing the run. That's what I want to do, is be as dominant as possible."