Position series: Cowboys safeties

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
4:32
PM ET
We have been looking at safeties today in our continuing, occasional position-by-position look at each of the teams in the NFC East, and the day concludes with an examination of the Dallas Cowboys' safeties.

Projected starters: Brodney Pool, Gerald Sensabaugh

Reserves: Barry Church, Matt Johnson, Danny McCray, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Potential strength: This is a problem position for the Cowboys, plain and simple. But Sensabaugh played pretty well overall for the Cowboys in 2011, and the upgrades at cornerback this year should allow him to roam a little more freely and make more plays. He had five interceptions and 10 pass break-ups in 2010, but those numbers dropped to two and three, respectively, in the first year under Rob Ryan. He's one of many players the team hopes will benefit from the additions of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne at cornerback.

Potential weakness: They haven't done much to try and replace Abram Elam, who was a bit of a letdown in his one and only season in Dallas. They signed Pool, who played for Ryan in Cleveland, but his spot is anything but secure. He could get a challenge from Church or from fourth-round pick Johnson, whose reputation as a big-time college playmaker convinced the Cowboys to select him well ahead of his consensus projected draft slot. The Cowboys' defense really craves that playmaking type, and it's possible that whoever looks the most active and disruptive in camp and in preseason games could get the start, which could make Pool a late cut.

Keep an eye on: Church. He's impressed first-year secondary coach Jerome Henderson, and he showed a lot of physical ability at the line of scrimmage when he played last year. Pool was signed because the team believed it had a need at that position, but Church could play well enough in training camp to convince them they were wrong about that. Again, his coverage deficiencies are what they are, but the corners are supposed to cover better this year and what the Cowboys want to see out of their safeties is game-changing ability.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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