ARLINGTON, Texas –The supposed camp battle for a starting job between Barry Church and Brodney Pool was over before it started, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys are lacking competition at safety.
In fact, the position is still only beginning to take shape, with Saturday's game just another step in its ongoing evolution. The Cowboys suffered two injuries in the deepest part of the secondary against St. Louis, with third-year special teams ace Danny McCray coming out with what he termed a stinger, and rookie fourth-round pick Matt Johnson sustaining another hamstring injury.
Since the draft, Johnson has missed all but a few practices due to eligibility stipulations and a hamstring injury to his other leg. Saturday was his first game action, but he was forced out after only a handful of snaps.
"Really disappointing," Johnson said. "I don't know what else to say about it. I try to believe that everything happens for a reason, but it's kind of hard to see why. I just feel like I'm trying to do everything right rehab-wise, diet-wise … so we'll just get on top of it and try to get healthy as soon as I can."
While McCray's injury is believed to be relatively minor, another setback with Johnson creates a situation for the Cowboys, who hoped he would play a role for them this year. While he's been out, first-year safety Mana Silva has shown up in games, intercepting a pass in the season opener and making a few splash plays on Saturday.
Silva was also a part of the first-team kickoff and kickoff return units on Saturday, an indication coaches are considering him as a strong candidate to make the 53-man roster, and perhaps even the 46-man active roster on game days to start the season. There's still some time to go between now and final cuts on Aug. 31, however.
"I go out there and just work as hard as I can, and I let the chips fall where they may fall," Silva said. "I've just got to stay humble and continue to improve."