Dallas Cowboys LB competition: The ultimate ‘Battle of Training Camp’

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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dallas cowboys
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Every year we try to hype up Dallas Cowboys training camp battles like they are a 12-round, no holds barred cage match to the death. What we usually get is a competition that’s largely determined before the players even take the field.

But this year in Dallas Cowboys training camp, we don’t need to build any false hype around one of these competitions. The “Battle of Training Camp” is legit and loaded with worthy challengers. I’m of course referring to the linebacker competition…

The battle at the linebacker position is going to be a heavy-weight grudge match for the Dallas Cowboys this year.

Not only is the position group loaded with top-end talent, but the positions are largely undefined. With new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on board, things could fall a hundred different ways for these linebackers.

We could see some linebackers play specialized roles in coverage. We could see them rotate at key spots. We could see some take snaps on the line as pass-rushers. We could see some be designated base defense players.  With Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jabril Cox all duking it out for snaps, there’s so many different ways this could fall.

Dallas Cowboys LB: Micah Parsons

The first round pick promises to be a big part of this Dallas Cowboys defense from Day 1. The supremely talented linebacker from Penn State is a favorite for NFL’s defensive rookie of the year for good reason – he’s a physical marvel who’s size, speed, and athletic ability is unrivaled in the NFL.

In rookie camp, Dan Quinn first used Parsons as a MIKE. But that quickly expanded to other linebacker positions, in addition to playing on the line as an edge rusher. Parsons shined in nearly every opportunity so it stands to reason his opportunities will have no bounds in Dallas.

Since Dallas is loaded at the position and Parsons is relatively inexperienced in coverage, Quinn and the Cowboys will likely ease the 12th overall pick in slowly for that phase of the game. But that grooming period won’t last long and Parsons figures to get the most total snaps of the unit this season bouncing around from role to role.