Versatile Micah Parsons makes immediate impact in new role for Dallas Cowboys

The Associated Press
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is hit by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons as he throws during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

FRISCO, Texas – The role for versatile rookie Micah Parsons in the Dallas defense just got a little more intriguing after the linebacker essentially replaced injured star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence in a 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

While the Chargers cost themselves two touchdowns with penalties, there was no denying the impact of Parsons, particularly when matched up against right tackle Storm Norton.

Parsons’ first career sack came on a generous call by officials who ruled quarterback Justin Herbert was in his grasp when he threw a pass while backpedaling. Regardless, the 18-yard sack ultimately forced the Chargers to settle for a tying field goal.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )

That fourth-quarter possession ended up being the last for L.A. as Dak Prescott led a drive to a game-ending field goal for his first victory since the star quarterback’s severe ankle injury last October. Dallas earned an encouraging split of two road games to start the season.

Parsons’ role in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s adjusted plan without Lawrence and fellow starter Randy Gregory was the talk of the locker room after the win. The former Penn State player said it was his most work on the defensive line since high school in Harrisburg.

“I mean, a lot of it was natural,” Parsons said. “Some people had a long day out there.”

When coming off the left side, Parsons had little trouble getting around Norton. He played 39 of 71 snaps, rushing Herbert on most of them – sometimes even in a three-point stance – and finishing with the sack, a tackle for loss and a game-high four QB hits.

Lawrence is likely sidelined until November after breaking his foot in practice Wednesday, which forced the midweek adjustment with Parsons. If Gregory returns from the COVID-19 list for next Monday’s home opener against Philadelphia, the intrigue with Parsons grows.

“I’m just showing them different versatilities of what I can do,” Parsons said. “We go into the playbook even more. I think my teammates and Coach Q put an unbelievable amount of faith in me.”