Dallas Cowboys: OJ Atogwe

Cowboys safety Barry Church is expected to undergo surgery this week -- perhaps as early as Tuesday -- after being lost for the season after suffering a torn right Achilles tendon vs. the Bucs on Sunday.

Finding his replacement could be problematic for the Cowboys. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Danny McCray: With Gerald Sensabaugh out with a calf strain, McCray stepped in and earned his first start of the season Sunday against Tampa Bay. McCray didn't make the stat sheet, but he's considered a good tackler who needs work in pass coverage. He's a good fit, but he's the Cowboys' best special teams player so you have to monitor his snaps on that unit.

2. Brandon Carr: The veteran cornerback started at free safety in a funky defensive alignment Sunday. He had one pass breakup in the victory. The Cowboys didn't pay Carr that much -- $50.1 million over five seasons -- to become a free safety. While it's good Carr has versitility to play both spots, he's more valuable at jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage as a cover corner.

3. Mike Jenkins: This won't happen, though he played both corner and safety in the Week 2 loss at Seattle. Jenkins played mainly cornerback Sunday with Carr moved to free safety. Carr is better suited skill-wise in terms of range to play safety than Jenkins. However, Jenkins has good coverage skills and could possibly line up there in a pinch to cover a tight end.

4. Mario Butler: He was released Saturday to make room for linebacker Orie Lemon, who recovered a fumble on special teams in the Tampa Bay game. Butler played corner and safety for the Cowboys, but he has to clear waivers Monday in order to re-sign with the team. If the Cowboys want Butler to return, he knows the defensive scheme and he would mainly play safety.

5. Brodney Pool: He was released in training camp after a few practices, and he failed his conditioning test. Despite a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $100,000, the Cowboys didn't think he was worth having around. Pool is still available and, while defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes him, he was part of the decision making process to cut him.

6. Charlie Peprah: The Plano East graduate has played with Green Bay and Atlanta in his seven-year career. The 5-11, 203-pound Peprah intercepted five passes in 14 games last season for the Packers. He might be able to play both safety positions and, with 26 career starts, is an experienced player who should pick up the defense pretty quickly.

Notes: There seems to be a feeling among fans, the Cowboys should go after O.J. Atogwe. He was cut by the Eagles this summer after suffering a hamstring injury. Atogwe signed a five-year contract with Washington in 2011 but was released after one season.

Cross Atogwe off the Cowboys list

June, 23, 2010
The Cowboys didn't have much interest in Rams safety O.J. Atogwe. Many in the front office and the scouts, believed Atogwe is a good player, but he was too pricey for what the Cowboys were willing to pay.

Well today, Atogwe, who was a restricted free agent, re-signed with the Rams.

The Cowboys had their chances to go after Atogwe but didn't bring him in for a visit or contact his agent for any serious talks.

There has been one constant regarding Atogwe, the Cowboys, while they do like him, love Alan Ball. He's the man who will replace Ken Hamlin at free safety in 2010. Michael Hamlin is another safety the team likes and will give every opportunity to win a roster spot this year.

Ball is athletic, has corner skills and smart enough to make plays in the secondary. Hamlin called the secondary signals last season for the Cowboys, but secondary coach Dave Campo reminded us Ball can do that.

Gerald Sensabaugh, who played for Campo in Jacksonville, is the strong safety and he too can call signals, but the Cowboys rather see him play without having to do that.