FRISCO, Texas – Suffice to say, Micah Parsons has earned the respect of his locker room.
It's always an interesting dynamic when a highly-drafted rookie arrives on the scene. The talent is typically obvious, though earning the respect of a building full of veterans is another matter.
In the case of Parsons, neither seems to have ever been an issue – as DeMarcus Lawrence reminded everyone when asked about his rookie teammate on Wednesday.
"I always knew Micah was an athlete when we first drafted him. But just to see him in live action and see him really take over a game like he does, it's impressive," Lawrence said. "I heard somebody called him The Little L.T., and I was like 'Yes. We do have a little L.T. on our team.'"
Needless to say, that's awfully high praise. Lawrence Taylor is widely regarded as one of the best players in NFL history, having racked up 1,089 tackles, 142 sacks, 10 All-Pro selections and 10 Pro Bowls during his career with the New York Giants.
Fittingly, Taylor is also the first and only player to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year during his rookie season – a distinction that Parsons at least has a chance to match this year.
Just in case that wasn't good enough, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy also compared his rookie linebacker to one of the game's unquestioned greats.
"I mean, he's almost like Barry Sanders in there when he is avoiding blocks," McCarthy said. "They can't get their hands on him. He's so slippery and natural … He's as natural as a football player with exceptional physical gifts as I've been around."
Parsons has been impressive from the minute he took the practice field during OTAs in May, but he's taken things to another level since returning from the Cowboys' Week 7 bye. In six games since that break, he's tallied 34 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits. Most importantly, he's notched seven of his 10 sacks in that time span – highlighted by his current run of at least one sack in five-straight games.
"His speed speaks for itself," Lawrence said. "Just happy he's my teammate, and I'm glad to have him."
There's a lot of football left to play, but it's the type of form that can set records. Parsons already owns the Cowboys' rookie sack record, having passed DeMarcus Ware's eight. If he keeps it up, Jevon Kearse's NFL record of 14.5, set in 1999, is in sight.
Coincidentally enough, Kearse's nephew plays safety behind Parsons. And while Jayron Kearse said he hasn't spoken to his uncle, he's not opposed to seeing some history get made.
"I'm open to the record getting broken," he said. "Being that Micah is my teammate, Micah is a tremendous player – or a tie. Tie the record."