from David Helman
FOX Sports Dallas Cowboys Writer
COSTA MESA, Calif. – The loader must be sick Micah Parsons.
It’s a strange statement on the surface. The Cowboys and Chargers aren’t even in the same conference, let alone division rivals. Wednesday’s practice was just the second time Parsons lined up against this team in his career.
Then you remember that his first against the Chargers came in Week 2 last season, when he made NFL headlines with a dominating performance in the Cowboys’ 20-17 win. And watching him tear down shop here at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex, it looked like more of the same.
“What we did, I felt we dominated as a defense,” Parsons said after practice. “This is just setting the pace — the pace and the standard for what’s to come this year.”
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Parsons rushed the passer out of necessity in that game against LA last season, just days after DeMarcus Lawrence went on injured reserve with a broken foot. It took the Cowboys about three hours to find out they had a season-changing talent. Parsons finished the game with four quarterback tackles and a game-changing sack.
Almost a year later, terrorizing QBs is just one of a half-dozen tools at his disposal.
During an hour of team practice Wednesday, starters vs. punters, Parsons managed to sack Justin Herbert — once as an edge rusher, once as a pass rusher — overthrew ball carriers and dropped into coverage. It’s when he went toe-to-toe with Mike Williams, a $60 million NFL receiver, that you’re reminded that Parsons can do a little bit of everything.
“Talking to J-Herb, what he said was it just creates a ‘who knows,’ you know what I’m saying? That’s the part that makes this boat go,” Parsons said.
Parsons admitted that sometimes it can be frustrating to wear so many hats because it never allows him to settle on a specific skill set. At the same time, he added that the best players own their role – no matter how big it is.
“I have to be the best person in that position for this team,” he said. “Because it’s not just about me. There’s 10 other guys on the field that help me do what I do and those guys push me every day.”
This is nothing new, of course. Parsons has been dominant since the Cowboys arrived in California three weeks ago. But watching him do it against another team just underscored how much the Cowboys will demand of him. And how ready he seems for the challenge.
Wednesday was the first of two joint practices between the Cowboys and Chargers in Costa Mesa. Here are some other notes from practice areas.
Both defenses had the run of the day, for the most part. The newly star-studded Chargers defense gave Dak Prescott some trouble down the field as he finished 9-for-16 on the team’s kickoff returns with a touchdown to Dalton Schultz and two interceptions. Prescott got away from Mike Davis on a deep pass attempt to Jalen Tolbert, and he had a throw intended for the tipped Ezekiel Elliott and was stopped by Kyle Van Noy.
Cooper Rush had a nice day after struggling in the preseason loss to Denver. Rush threw a touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Dontario Drummond and also found speedster KaVontae Turpin deep downfield for a long completion.
Men in a hurry
It would be unfair to single out Parsons on a day when the Cowboys’ pass rush had so much success. The Chargers offensive line had their hands full across the front as at least five different Cowboys were on the sack chart. Parsons had two, but Dante Fowler Jr. beat Rashawn Slater for a sack during the team’s period.
Tarell Basham had another big moment as he threw himself a pass for his second tackle in as many practices. Sam Williams also managed to get behind the quarterback and knock the ball out of his hands, while Osa Odighizuwa and Neville Gallimore got into the backfield on several occasions.
The Chargers had their successes, as you’d expect. Herbert found Keenan Allen open on numerous occasions, especially in the intermediate range of the field. Herbert also had quite a bit of success finding his backside on the pass. During the 7-on-7 game, he found Austin Ekeler on the right sideline for a long completion against Anthony Barr, who was making his practice debut for the Cowboys.
However, it’s interesting to note that the long finishes didn’t seem to be there often for the Chargers. Herbert checked the short-range options on many occasions. And when he tested deep down the field, the Cowboys’ safeties were able to help over the top to prevent any big completions.
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Odds & Ends
It looks like CeeDee Lamb will be out for at least a little while. Lamb cut his leg and did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, though the Cowboys insist it’s a minor issue that won’t require an extended absence. However, the injury left Prescott without his No. 1 receiver. 1 against a stingy Chargers defense.
Safety Jayron Kearse also remains out as he is still resting the back problem that has plagued him for the past week.
Both tight end Tyron Smith and cornerback Trevon Diggs returned to practice after missing last week’s action against Denver.
David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports, providing insight and analysis on the NFL’s most notable franchise. Prior to joining FOX, David spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website, DallasCowboys.com. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in the production of “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State.
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