“We’re going to get after it every day. He’s one of the top five backs in the league … I’m going to push him every day, and that’s how it’s going to be,” the rookie linebacker said upon being selected at No. 12 overall in April’s draft.
Parsons, as it turns out, is a man of his word.
When the Penn State product wasn’t flying around offensive tackles on Tuesday, the inaugural day of Cowboys minicamp, he was going toe-to-toe — and ran step-for-step — with the NFL’s richest running back, who’s enjoying a terrific spring of his own.
Cameras were on hand to capture the long-awaited one-versus-one matchup, the first of many to become between Dallas’ new defensive linchpin and its established offensive workhorse.
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Drafted an as off-ball prospect, Parsons is entrenched as the Cowboys’ starting middle linebacker, replacing Sean Lee. But new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is finding ample opportunities to maximize the 22-year-old’s natural disruptive ability.
On Tuesday, Parsons operated as the Designated Pass Rusher, a role occupied last year by Randy Gregory — a role that Parsons has embraced under the tutelage of star edge defender DeMarcus Lawrence.
“Just creating havoc, creating disruption,” he 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.”
Parsons added: “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?’ I was like, ‘yeah, I used to be a defensive end.’ He was like, ‘Alright, 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.”
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Rave Reviews for Zeke
Pessimism be damned, Elliott is drawing effusive praise for his efforts at Organized Team Activities and continuing practices during the Cowboys’ offseason program. This, from beat reporters and teammates alike.
“Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott displayed explosive lateral quickness on one run, sharp spin move on another,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News noted Tuesday. “After each, Elliott nodded his head when running into end zone. Elliott having a great spring, and he knows it.”
“Zeke comes in every offseason motivated. He works hard every offseason,” left tackle Tyron Smith said, via Brianna Dix of D210S Sports. “For him, ever since he’s been here it’s to get better and better every year from what I’ve seen. He comes in with the same drive, same attitude and he comes to get better.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL