Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. He's earned first-team All-Pro selections in each of his first two seasons, co-led the NFL in quarterback pressures (90) last season with the San Francisco 49ers' Nick Bosa, and recorded 13.5 sacks last season, which ranked seventh-most in the league.
He has thoroughly expressed his excitement for the 2023 season, saying that adding 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a defense that was already a top-five scoring unit in 2022 could create an all-time unit.
"What do I think this defense can be?'" Parsons 49ers' great defense (led the NFL in points per game allowed in 2022). "I think we can be up there with Ray Lewis' [Baltimore Ravens] defense. I think we can be up there with the [Seattle Seahawks] 'Legion of Boom.'"on July 28 at training camp out in Oxnard, California. "I think we can be up there with the
However, Parsons has struggled to contain his excitement when it comes to rushing the passer in practice, which has led to him committing the cardinal practice sin: hitting starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Quarterbacks wear red jerseys in practice to indicate to their teammates that they shouldn't be hit. Despite these measures, Parsons was caught red-handed in training camp multiple times hitting Prescott low. That has drawn the ire of head coach Mike McCarthy.
"In Micah's case, we have practice ethics, rules and structure to our drills," McCarthy said Thursday. "We go through these spots all the time: you don't hit the quarterback. The quarterback hasn't been hit in practice in my 30 years [as an NFL coach] that I can recall. That's all part of working together, having discipline in your rush lane, discipline in your pass-protection unit, and this is why you have camp. We have a tremendous amount of work to do in the area of technique and fundamentals. Oh yeah, we've talked about that a number of times. That's all part of the practice ethic plan. He is a No. 1 violator right now."
Parsons admitted on Saturday that he's fully aware of McCarthy's disdain for him making contact with Prescott. However, he strives to get as close to doing so as he can each practice in order to best simulate a game-like rep.
"I challenge myself and push myself to the limits, preparing myself for my mental space for where I want to be Sunday, Monday, and Thursday," Parsons said Saturday at training camp. "That's my mindset. Every day is a game. Every day is to work my craft and show what I can be doing. Every day is important. I get warnings every day. But you know, I've always been wanting to push towards that line.
"Yeah, I'm ready to go right now man. With my training coming in here I was already game-ready. A lot of guys might wait until camp and go through the motions to ramp up and get ready, but my mindset this year was like 'I want to be so far ahead of everybody so by the time camp comes around, I'm in midseason form and ready to dominate.'"
Parsons' targets for improvement in his offseason work were centered becoming a more technically-sound pass rusher.
"My hands, my footwork, my eyes, what I'm looking at: everything is much more clear. Experience is playing a large part too. It's just the reps of what I want to be really good at. The conditioning and the tempo of it all, that's the key part.... I could play like seven or eight quarters. I could play two games if I have to."
The Cowboys can't wait for Parsons to continue to destroy opposing quarterbacks during the upcoming regular season, but he'll need to have just a little bit more patience in practice in order for Prescott to enter Week 1 fully healthy.