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Training Camp | 2022

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Parsons on Barr's Role: 'We Might Switch Up'


OXNARD, Calif. - The addition of Anthony Barr to the linebacker unit instantly creates a tandem with Micah Parsons that's reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, in that the Dallas Cowboys are hoping the two can make beautiful defensive music together that ultimately becomes a bridge over troubled water, i.e., their longstanding Super Bowl drought.

The dynamic between the two is already off to a hot start, and that's with the latter having yet to touch the practice field for the Cowboys.

Barr remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he becomes acclimated to the system, but when asked if adding Barr to the rotation will free last year's first-round pick to go after the opposing QB more often, Parsons answer was an intriguing one.

"There's a possibility," said Parsons, before dropping a bit of a preview into what their music might sound like. "But don't forget, Barr told me he likes to rush too, so to have that switch-up - it'll be nice."

Parsons obviously isn't the only one who is imagining such a schematic. Will McClay, the team's Vice President of Player Personnel who helped engineer the signing, hears the same tune playing in his head.

"He brings another element to the defense where you can move certain guys around," said McClay. " ... We're a young defense, so the more leadership you can bring that can play, I think that helps us. ... His professionalism is No. 1. Then we get on the field, and you can put Micah over here, you can put Leighton in a certain spot, you can bring a safety down - [Barr] gives you so much flexibility, defensive-wise, to do a number of different things.

"That's why he was attractive, because of his skill sets. Just like when he came out [of UCLA], he was the precursor to Micah because what was he going to do better? Rush off the edge or play the linebacker position? [They have] the same skill set, and it allows you to do different things.

"The way teams use athletic tight ends, you have to have the matchup players and all those things, and [Barr] allows you to do multiple and different things."

This is a sizable nod to Barr's versatility and just how defensive coordinator Dan Quinn plans to use him in conjunction with Parsons, the goal being to keep opposing offenses guessing on a snap-to-snap basis. Barr certainly has the ability to rush the passer, as his collegiate film (and some of his reps in a Vikings uniform) readily shows, but while not tasked with doing it much in Minnesota, that might change a bit once he gets settled in Dallas.

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker spoke on Friday about what his role alongside Parsons might look like.

"I'm just trying to continue to help him unlock his game," Barr said. "And to allow him to best player he can be. Obviously, he had the great start last year - pretty amazing what he was able to accomplish. I think he can just continue to elevate and take it to the next level. I'm hoping to be a tool and a resource to him, and also learn from him."

If a talent like Parsons and a decorated veteran like Barr can make each other better in 2022, well, what you'll hear from the opposing offense on a week-to-week basis is basically the sound of silence.

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