Position battle: Opportunity knocks for Barry Church

OXNARD, Calif. – Barry Church couldn’t ask for a better chance.

Church’s competition for the starting strong safety job is a veteran who failed the Cowboys’ conditioning test (Brodney Pool) and a rookie who missed almost the entire offseason program (Matt Johnson).

However, Church isn’t concerned with the competition. His focus is on proving to the coaching staff that he’s ready for to start after contributing in a limited role his first two seasons.

“I feel like they’re looking for a more confident me,” Church said. “I need to show that I know what I’m doing back there and can cover the deep half of the field. I feel like if I can do that, I can insert myself in the starting lineup.”

Pool has the advantage of having played for Rob Ryan in Cleveland, but the eight-year veteran made a poor first impression with the Cowboys by failing the conditioning test.

“I guess his back tightened up really bad,” Ryan said. “But we’re not going to make an excuse. We don’t give a (expletive). The next guy up is going.”

Church believes he’s ready to seize the opportunity.