IRVING, Texas -- Rookie safety Jeff Heath might be going from training camp body to member of the 53-man roster.
“He doesn’t look like an undrafted free agent from a little, small school,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said after Saturday’s 24-18 win against Cincinnati. “He looks like a kid who belongs, and he does.”
How small of a school? Saginaw Valley State, a Division II school.
Heath has done in training camp what the Cowboys hoped they would see from Matt Johnson, last year’s fourth-round pick from Eastern Washington. Johnson has not practiced since aggravating a foot injury in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame Game against Miami, and it is not looking like Johnson will be able to practice this week in order to play against Houston on Thursday.
Against Cincinnati, Heath had one of the biggest hits, forcing a Cobi Hamilton fumble along the sideline in the third quarter. He finished with two tackles.
With injuries to Johnson and Eric Frampton and J.J. Wilcox’s absence due to the death of his mother, Heath moved up to the No. 2 defense for a week or so of camp. He has been running with the first-team kickoff and punt coverage teams on special teams.
The fight is not over because the Cowboys have showed incredible patience with Johnson, who did not play as a rookie due to multiple hamstring injuries, and because Frampton is a dependable veteran special teams player. That said, Heath has put himself in the conversation to make the 53-man roster.