Position Preview: Safety Spot One Of Few Job Openings
Posted 20 hours ago
Nick EatmanDallasCowboys.com Staff Writer Follow nickeatman on Twitter All Nick Eatman Articles
Big Issue: Who starts opposite Gerald Sensabaugh? That seems to be a big enough issue. There arenít many position battles on this team where a starting spot is up for grabs. But that seems to be the case at free safety where Brodney Pool will likely get the opportunity to win the job, but Barry Church isnít far behind. And rookie Matt Johnson might work himself into the mix. Church has done well in the various roles the Cowboys have given him, including goal-line packages as a rookie, or dime linebacker last year. And heís made a few plays with the ball in his hands as well. As for Pool, who has the experience in Rob Ryanís system going back to Cleveland, where he also played for current defensive back coach Jerome Henderson, itís clear the Cowboys signed him as more of an insurance policy. He might have the most to prove, even though heís the most veteran of the group.
Brodney Poolís name might be first on the depth chart but I am not sure that it will still be there when the club lines up for that opening game against the Giants. There is no doubt in my mind that Gerald Sensabaugh will be the starter on one side but who starts next to him I really do believe is up in the air. Barry Church showed a great deal of promise last season before getting hurt. Danny McCray is more of a dime and special teams player than a starter. Rookie Matt Johnson appears to have the most ability but it has been difficult to get him on the field whether it was finishing college classes or now a hamstring injury. Pool does have the experience but in my view, I would rather see Church or Johnson get that opportunity because of their physical approach to the game. I thought Church got better in coverage and we all know he can tackle if you just look at his body of work on special teams. Johnson is smart, tough and puts himself in position to make plays. Donít let the fact that he is from Eastern Washington think he canít play. I studied him against the University of Washington in a game and he looked just fine. Safety is a position where there has been a great deal of instability over the years for the Cowboys. There were too many plays where the ball went down the field and the safeties were unable to make the play. Hopefully Church or Johnson could step in and change that direction.
Rookie Watch: Fourth-round pick Matt Johnson is the main rookie to watch at safety, but keep an eye on Justin Taplin-Ross, another first-year player who definitely looks the part. He was supposed to sign with the Cowboys last year but couldnít pass his physical after suffering an untimely ACL injury at his April Pro Day at Utah. Now heís back and with near-linebacker size, Taplin-Ross seemingly has the tools to be a good player, but will need to become a playmaker early. Heís on the outside looking in, but that can always change with a few big plays in practices and especially the preseason games.