OXNARD, Calif. – One minute, you'll see Micah Parsons burst off the edge in a pass-rush drill, using a quick inside move to produce a quarterback pressure.
The next, you'll see Parsons drop in coverage at his normal linebacker position during a 7-on-7 or team drill.
The Cowboys' first-round draft pick has uncanny versatility. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has noticed. That's why there's a lot on Parsons' plate early in his first NFL training camp.
The 22-year-old rookie is just fine with that.
"Every day he comes up with something new that he wants to do with me," Parsons said. "I don't take it as a bad thing. I take it as this is an honor, because that's how much he believes in me and my talents and what I can bring to this team and defense."
"Whether it's the playbook or life, he's checking on me every day. I'm just taking it like he really believes in me and sees me doing great things this year."
Quinn, architect of the Seahawks' dominant "Legion of Boom" defenses a decade ago, has a reputation as a hands-on coach. Before, during and after Thursday's opening camp practice, he spent time communicating instructions and adjustments to Parsons and the defense.
It's an approach Parsons welcomes. The 12th overall pick was a COVID-19 opt-out in 2020 and didn't play his final year at Penn State. But his talent as a pass rusher and sideline-to-sideline playmaker is apparent, even as he's juggling new responsibilities from Quinn.
"He's hard to impress. I don't think he's ever satisfied," Parsons said. "He always wants you to keep getting better. That's the kind of coach that you want to be under.
"Each day we're finding ways for me to get a little better at something. Trying to focus in on that. Trying to make me an all-around player."
Time will tell how Quinn and the Cowboys plan to sort out the linebacker rotation. Starters Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch are back. The club signed Keanu Neal, a Pro Bowl safety under Quinn in Atlanta, and moved him to linebacker. And former LSU standout Jabril Cox was drafted in the fourth round.
Parsons' varied skill set could be the X-factor. If the Cowboys find ways to feature him as a pass rusher in certain situations, it might create enough snaps for Vander Esch, Smith and himself.
"I think we're better when we're all out there together and work together," Parsons said. "Just keep getting our chemistry and I think we've got a chance to be the best linebacker unit this year."