Star pass rusher Micah Parsons believes in benefits of offseason time away from Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) stands with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) and other teammates during NFL football practice in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

By SCHUYLER DIXON AP Pro Football Writer

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Micah Parsons skipped most of the voluntary offseason program with the Dallas Cowboys after alluding to a culture problem for the team in the wake of a shocking wild-card loss to Green Bay in January.

The star pass rusher says he hasn’t even found time for a one-on-one meeting with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer after the predecessor who nurtured Parsons in his first three seasons, Dan Quinn, left to become the coach in Washington.

None of the above is an issue for the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Pro. Parsons figures he’ll be lining up, ready to sack Deshaun Watson, in the Sept. 8 opener at Cleveland.

“I don’t think a locker room is the only way I can build chemistry with my teammates,” Parsons said during the team’s mandatory minicamp this week. “Just because I’m actively not here at the designated time doesn’t mean I don’t come in.”

Parsons spent time with Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud in China as part of goodwill tour for the NFL. He matched wits with sumo wrestlers overseas, and is always looking for alternative ways to train.

Plus, the Cowboys will be spending a month together in California for training camp.

“I would say, ‘You ever watch “Remember the Titans?“‘ We’re gonna be in Oxnard a very, very long time,” said Parsons, referring to the championship-winning high school team that bonded in a preseason camp.

“There’s gonna be a lot of chemistry in that building,” Parsons said of the July 23-Aug. 22 stint that will include two preseason games. “That’s really the time where you see everything. It’s hard to really teach somebody without pads or contact or hand points. It’s just not realistic.”

And maybe by then, Parsons will have had a lengthy chat with Zimmer, the former Minnesota head coach whose career on NFL sidelines started with the Cowboys 24 years ago.

They both bring impressive resumes. Parsons has 40 1/2 sacks in 50 regular-season games. Zimmer was one of the league’s best defensive coordinators before eight seasons in charge of the Vikings.

“Honestly, me and Zim have probably said a total of 20 words to each other,” Parsons said. “He’s a very quiet person. All I keep hearing from the coaches is that Zim likes it this way. But I like it this way. I can’t wait to have my true sit-down with him. I think it’ll be pretty cool, because obviously old-school mindset, old-school mentality. He’s had a lot of great players, but he ain’t never had a Micah before. It’ll be fun.”

Parsons’ unapologetic approach to the voluntary portion of the offseason doesn’t bother Dak Prescott, who hasn’t missed a day despite a suddenly uncertain future with the Cowboys. The star quarterback is going into the final season of his club-record $160 million, four-year contract.

“I’m here, would love for Micah to be here,” Prescott said, referring to the optional workouts that came before minicamp. “Trust me, he’s heard me say that. I know he’s getting better. I know he’s working on his body. So I don’t have any angst or concerns there.”

Parsons makes it clear his absence has nothing to do with his contract.

As All-Pro receiver CeeDee Lamb stays away from mandatory workouts seeking an extension going into the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, Parsons is a year behind that process. He’s not in any hurry, and confident he can sign the richest defensive contract in NFL history.

“I can’t really put a timetable on mine,” said Parsons, who was a 12th overall pick by the Cowboys and already had the fifth-year club option on his rookie contract exercised for 2025. “All I gotta do is keep getting sacks, and that stuff will handle itself.”

Parsons reminded reporters this isn’t the first time he has stayed away from voluntary workouts, and the former Penn State standout believes in his methods of rest and recovery for his body.

“This is all I have to offer the Cowboys,” Parsons said as he moved his hands up and down in front of his torso and legs. “This is where all of my equity lies. I have no equity outside of this to offer them.

“If I’m not available when it really matters, because I’m banged up or my body is not healing properly or I didn’t get all the rehab or treatment that I need to be successful, then that’s on me,” Parsons said. “It’s not on them. They’ll just find the next me.”

At the same time, Parsons is confident enough to believe there isn’t another him.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl