The Dallas Cowboys learned earlier this week they’ll be without defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory for their week two contest against the LA Chargers. NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday first-round pick Micah Parsons could be the quick solution to the team’s lack of depth at defensive end.
With Parsons making a move, Leighton Vander Esch should stay on the field in all packages along with Keanu Neal, which is another added benefit of the Parsons shift. Last week, Vander Esch only played 14 of their 65 snaps against Tampa Bay.
Neal may play added safety snaps this week, paving the way for more Jaylon Smith snaps. Malik Hooker is expected to make his debut Sunday after Dallas downgraded safety Donovan Wilson to out.
“He is a lot more comfortable,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Hooker on Friday. “Training camp and getting through that, we just didn’t want to go too fast with him coming off the injury and the rehab he was going through. I thought he looked good in practice.
As for Parsons, rushing the passer isn’t new. In fact, that’s all he did prior to arriving at Penn State before he was moved to linebacker out of need. The Cowboys smartly trained Parsons as a designated pass rusher this spring, and he even impressed Lawrence while doing it.
“Last week we were watching film of pass rush and D-Law came up to me,” Parsons told reporters during the spring, “And was like, ‘You pass rush like that, Rook?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I used to be a defensive end.’ He was like, ‘Alright, tap in with me.’ Me and him have been getting closer.”
Before the season began, both the linebacker and safety positions appeared crowded. Now, the Cowboys’ decision to run deep at both positions should offer them the ability to place some unique packages on the field. More than likely you’ll see Parsons, Vander Esch, Smith and Neal on the field together more often with a mixture of Hooker and Demontae Kazee and Jayvon Kearse at safety.