The team's 2021 first-round draft pick is always on the move.
Here's an example from one practice: Parsons opened coverage drills working as a middle linebacker for a few snaps, then jogged to the other end of the field for pass-rush drills, working first on the outside against an offensive tackle and then inside as a middle linebacker blitzing up the middle. From there, he jogged back to the coverage drills and lined up as a strong-side linebacker.
Parsons' versatility was a big reason the Cowboys drafted him at No. 12 overall, and nothing has dissuaded them from how they plan to use him based on what they have seen so far.
"What was nice about the spring was to be able to go through practices, you had a chance to see where some of his strengths lie," Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "So that was a good piece for me as we went through the spring and then through the summer that I could negotiate and look at some packages and see how could we feature him in some ways. ... To his credit, he has worked hard. There are very few busts on his end."
After the first practice in Oxnard, coach Mike McCarthy said they did too much with Parsons from a package standpoint by tracking numbers that monitor how much distance the player covered and how high his heart rate raced.
"You don't want to spread him too thin because he is unique," McCarthy said. "You can see that right away out there, particularly with some of the plays he made in space and recovery, you forget about his size and how powerful that he is."
Parsons (6-foot-3, 248 pounds) doesn't seem to mind. He is willing to try anything. After opting out of last season at Penn State, he's glad to be back on the football field and trying to fit into anything Quinn wants him to do.
"DQ is someone who's hard to impress," Parsons said. "I don't think he's ever satisfied. He always wants you to keep getting better, so that's the kind of coach you want to be under. Every day he comes up to me with something new he wants to do with me. I don't take it as a bad thing. I take it as a honor because that's how much he believes in me, my talents and what I can bring to this team and defense."
During what McCarthy calls, "TV timeouts," during practice, Parsons is almost always next to Quinn, receiving detailed instruction.
"When a player plays sometimes more than one position, there's some good guidelines you want to follow to make sure that nothing really gets lost in the cracks," Quinn said. "If you're playing corner and you're always in with the corners, you're pretty much going to get all the information for that spot. For him, where he has some pass-rush background, and certainly some big linebacker background, I can fill some of the space on the pass-rush side, so that's where a lot of our conversation will go.
"It's also a good check-in for where we're at ... and be very deliberate, on this day here are the things we want to work on."
The more Parsons can master, the more flexible the Cowboys can be on defense, especially as they mix and match the rest of the linebackers, such as Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and Keanu Neal. It can also create confusion for an opposing offense because it might not know if Parsons is rushing the passer or dropping in coverage.
"I'm just kind of taking it in like this is what he wants me to do so I can keep getting better," Parsons said. "If he's obviously going out of his way to stay with me, and, 'Hey, do you understand this? Do you need help with this?' Almost anything whether it's playbook, life, he's someone checking on me every day. I'm just taking it as he really believes in me and sees me doing great things this year."