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    Rookie LB Micah Parsons Helping Cowboys Build New Identity on Defense

    When the Cowboys spent a pick at linebacker for the second time in three seasons, it was a clear sign they need to improve at the position to revamp 's . Twelfth overall pick Micah Parsons has been more than just a standard linebacker for the Cowboys defense so far in , playing some as a pass rusher while coming away with an interception return for a touchdown on Thursday.

    Parsons has played alongside , one of the linebackers put on notice along with when the team drafted not only Parsons but Jabrill Cox. Regardless of their role on the field, Vander Esch and Smith provide something the Cowboys simply lack elsewhere on defense – a veteran presence with at least some proven production.

    This adds to the intrigue of building around a new player like Parsons, who by all reports is impressing Cowboys veterans and coaches alike in his first practices.

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    With the Cowboys working into his first full with the team, their hope is to have a weakside that won't have to come off the field much. Parsons getting snaps at the DPR/SAM position would mean he's rushing opposite of Gregory, taking advantage of the attention warrants on the strongside.

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    Asking too much too soon of Parsons or any of the eight rookies Dallas drafted in another new scheme is a recipe for failure. Adding Parsons at linebacker could be the key to turning around the play of Vander Esch and Smith, with Leighton also intercepting a pass in yesterday's practice.

    When Parsons is not going after the , ranging sideline to sideline as a MIKE linebacker is his best trait. If this means Vander Esch is freed up to make plays at WILL or anchor against the run at SAM, the Cowboys will be getting the type of big return they need on this year's top pick.

    In Nickel defense, the Cowboys will likely play with two linebackers on the field for the majority of their snaps. With only two spots to work in Parsons, Vander Esch, and Smith, there could easily be an odd man out at LB for the Cowboys.

    acquisition is also an added wrinkle to the Cowboys linebacker room, bringing experience at the position under Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Neal's coverage skills are needed on the second level in today's game, and is something the Cowboys don't have in Smith or any other depth players at LB.

    Getting too high or low on any updates from practices before isn't the best way to keep track of the Cowboys progress on defense. What can be gathered is how they plan to deploy a cast of new players.

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    By putting the focus on Parsons, and seeing how the Cowboys rookie has handled everything thrown at him so far, the team can better plan for not only what this season will look like defensively but their future at linebacker. The Cowboys were linked to Parsons very early in the draft process, with some of this buzz dying down once mocks had first round cornerbacks sliding their way at tenth overall.

    Micah Parsons
    LB Micah Parsons.

    Once was no longer an option at ten, the Cowboys traded down to twelve. Whether or not this was a strong recovery from getting wiped out at their biggest position of need, or a reach that will cause even further setbacks at linebacker, will be determined as Parsons settles into a defined role for his first season.

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    Sean Martin
    Sean Martinhttp://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/
    Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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    gary b

    I can’t wait to see this playmaking beast flying around the field making plays for the cowboys.

    Gary Wiley Sr

    Like i. Have been telling A lot of people, this defense will be real scary by mid season if they stay healthy.

    Rae

    I always thought Jaylon Smith would be a better fit at the position they’re putting Parsons in. Jaylon needs to rush the QB more often high motor and relentless. I don’t like him playing in so much space

    Gary b

    J Smith has never particularly shown good pass rush skills. But ur right he has no business operating in space. He’s a sitting duck out there. Unfortunately unless he is moving forward in a straight line he’s ineffective. He’ll likely play SAM where he can play the run on the strong side. He will come off the field on passing downs.

    Parsons will be our MLB where he can read/react and make plays sideline to sideline. He can also be used as a blitzer, which is a big strength of his.