- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys' remedial relay team will finally join the rest of their teammates at practice this afternoon.
Brodney Pool better come ready to play.
Barry Church shined while Pool spent the first few days of training camp getting in shape. The competition for the starting job at strong safety seems headed to no-contest status.
Church, who has played well in a limited role as a reserve the last two seasons, hasn’t just been solid, either. He’s been among the most impressive players in camp through a few practices, holding his own against tight end Jason Witten and making several plays to break up passes.
“I’ve always thought he was one of our best players on defense,” said defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who wants to see Church prove he can handle coverage responsibilities playing the deep half of the field. “Right now, he’s got a hell of a chance to prove it. He’s taken advantage of these last few days.”
Added secondary coach Jerome Henderson: “Barry Church is a heck of a player. When I got here and saw him on film, I kept seeing him show up and make plays. We hope that he grows from last year and takes that next step and becomes a reliable starting safety for us.”
If Pool doesn’t win the starting job, there probably won’t be room on the roster for him. The Cowboys will write off his $100,000 guarantee as an insurance cost.
That might have happened anyway, but Pool let Church jump out to a huge head start.