FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys will play their 11th game of the regular season Thanksgiving Day against the Las Vegas Raiders. Counting the four-game preseason slate, that's 15 games and counting -- more than a normal college football season.
This time last year, Micah Parsons wasn't even on the field. He chose to forgo his junior season at Penn State as a COVID-19 opt-out.
A little more than halfway through a long season, Parsons has shown no signs of slowing down.
"People always talk about the rookie wall, but I just keep climbing and climbing because I'm excited to see what's on the other side of that wall," he said.
Climbing? More like busting through it.
Through 10 games, Parsons leads the Cowboys with 8.0 sacks as a part-time defensive end, most-of-the-time-linebacker. He has lined up as primarily an edge rusher in three games, including last Sunday's 19-9 loss at Kansas City, when he sacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes twice and tied DeMarcus Ware's franchise rookie record for most sacks in a season.
"Well, when we drafted him, seriously, we made a big emphasis (of), 'Guys, now, I don't want to draft an inside linebacker here. Are we drafting a pressure player and can he pressure from the outside?'" Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. "The answer was a resounding 'yes' across the room. Resounding."
That's been the case, indeed, though Parsons will continue to be an option as an off-the-ball linebacker based on matchups. It's becoming a guessing game for opposing offenses.
Had he played for Penn State in 2020, maybe Parsons would've been drafted much earlier than 12th overall. But he's thankful to be with the Cowboys and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who had a clear vision for his role.
"People say, 'What if he'd played his college season?' Well, maybe I wouldn't have been here," Parsons said. "I don't look back on anything. I'm just so honored and blessed to represent the star and have an opportunity to be a star here."