Cowboys Make Position Change With Star Rookie Micah Parsons: Report

Cowboys News

Getty Micah Parsons is one of the Cowboys most versatile defenders.

The Dallas Cowboys are getting creative as they attempt to turn a bad situation on the defensive line into a manageable one. Dallas is moving rookie linebacker Micah Parsons to defensive end as the team deals with both DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory being sidelined against the Chargers.

“The talented tackler from Penn State will essentially move to defensive end, sources say, beginning with Dallas’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport detailed. “Thanks to the broken foot that Demarcus Lawrence suffered at practice this week, along with Randy Gregory landing on the COVID-19 list, there is a big-time void when it comes to rushing the passer. Parsons should help fill it.

“With Parsons making a move, Leighton Vander Esch should stay on the field in all packages along with Keanu Neal, which is another added benefit of the Parsons shift. Neal may play added safety snaps this week, paving the way for more Jaylon Smith snaps.”

Parsons Moving to DE Means Smith & Vander Esch Will Likely See Increased Snaps

The move likely means veteran linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch will see the field more against the Chargers. Smith played 25% of the defensive snaps in Week 1, while Vander Esch notched 22% of the plays. The Athletic’s Jon Machota reported Parsons has been taking more snaps at defensive end during practice to prepare for what is likely a temporary change.

“Part of the reason the Cowboys drafted rookie linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round was because of his ability to rush the passer,” Machota explained. “Parsons spent extra time this week during practice working with the defensive ends. Regardless of where Parsons lines up, the Cowboys will likely need to bring more than four to get consistent pressure on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.”

Parsons appears to have okayed the position switch as the Cowboys’ injury woes continue.

“It just depends on how things are going throughout the game,” Parsons said, per Machota. “If I’m needed … I’m more than happy to help the team out.”

Parsons Played Defensive End in High School

The Cowboys have one of the deepest linebacker groups in the NFL and the switch opens up the opportunity to get Parsons, Vander Esch, Smith and Keanu Neal all on the field together. Parsons played linebacker at Penn State but took some snaps at defensive end in high school.

“Last week we were watching film of pass rush and D-Law came up to me,” Parsons noted during the spring, per “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.”

Lawrence’s broken foot has been described as a “freak accident” during practice. Parsons admitted the team will miss Lawrence, but the rookie plans to do his best to step up to the challenge.

“I don’t need to be the guy, but I want to be the guy,” Parsons explained, per The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken. “Even if D-Law was here, I want to be that guy. You know what I mean? That only makes us better. If someone gets injured or anything … there’s no next man up. I want to be the guy from the beginning. I want the ball 100 times every day. I want to go out there and give 100%.”