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Already On The Roster? Heath Expects 'Big Year' From Other Starting Safety


FRISCO, Texas –Admittedly, Jeff Heath isn't too comfortable talking about other positions on the team. 

It wasn't too long ago when he was just an undrafted rookie trying to make the Cowboys. And to some extent, Heath still keeps that same mentality, despite being one of the expected starters at safety. 

But he also understands that there is a job up for grabs right next to him. In fact, it has been one of the more discussed positions on this team, to the point where it seemed a certainty the Cowboys would sign or trade for a veteran safety. 

And that could still happen. 

But as we sit here in late May, with the second week of OTA practices nearly completed, Heath doesn't see it that way. He was asked Wednesday if he believes his fellow starting safety is currently on the roster. Not only does he have an answer, he also has a name. 

"Yeah, I do," Heath said. "I think 'X' is doing a great job. We saw it in the time he got during the season last year." 

Heath is referring to Xavier Woods, the second-year safety who took advantage of his limited playing time in 2017 by showing the coaches and his teammates all of the things he can do.

"How versatile he is, playing safety and playing nickel, just all the things he can do," said Heath. "I really like his work ethic and attitude. I'm a big fan of his. I think he's going to have a big year." 

While Heath says he doesn't pay much attention to outside chatter from fans or media, which is one reason why he's not too familiar with his new, trendy nickname of being the "GOAT," he at least knows of the speculation that the Cowboys have attempted to bring in a veteran, including a near trade on draft day. 

"They're putting a lot of faith in us," Heath said of the current safeties. "We can just control what we control. I know for me personally, that's all I really can do. I can't speak for the other (safeties), but I just worry about what I can control on the field. Hopefully that's good enough for the guys making the decisions." 

One of the guys weighing in on the decision-making process will likely be new defensive backs coach Kris Richard, who comes over from Seattle where he was the defensive coordinator. Heath said he has been impressed with the technique and attitude Richard has brought to the Cowboys' secondary room. 

"I think everyone is really excited about him," Heath said. "The differences that Coach Richard brought over kind of simplified things for us. It's definitely a player-friendly system. Him being a secondary coach, he's coaching us up really well." 

Speaking of coaching, Heath said he's doing some of that these days as well, just from being one of the older guys in the room. And to think, it was only five years ago he was an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State just hoping to make the roster. 

"It's definitely something crazy to think about because it feels like these past five seasons have gone super fast," Heath said. "I remember everything about my first OTA like it was yesterday. When you reflect on the number of games I've played in and the number of guys I've played with and against, it's pretty cool."

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