*FRISCO, Texas – *No disrespect intended toward Chidobe Awuzie’s abilities as a cornerback, but it felt pressing to ask whether he plans on changing positions.
After all, the second-year defensive back has been floated as a possibility to make a switch to safety several times this offseason – especially if the Cowboys don’t like what they see from their current options.
That might be a strange request for a guy who’s currently holding down a starting job at left corner, but Awuzie said he doesn’t need to be told to get ready – he stays ready.
“I don’t need to hear it. That’s been my MO since I was young – corner, safety, nickel, dime, whatever it is, I’ll be ready,” he said Wednesday. “I definitely know what the safeties do, but right now it’s pretty confirmed that I’ll play corner.”
Anything is possible, but that certainly seems like the smart play for 2018. Awuzie has shown impressive potential from the time he grabbed a starting cornerback job last November. On top of that, his rangy, 6-0 build seems ideal for the way new secondary coach Kris Richard wants to play defense.
“It’s another year of experience. You can’t beat that,” Awuzie said. “Getting those reps at the end of the year – those six games or five games or whatever it was, just getting those reps. It’s getting a new coach and him trying to take what he’s teaching me to the field and getting comfortable with my brothers.”
“Comfortable” seems like an understatement in Awuzie’s second year. On top of his comfort within the defense, he looks at home on the practice field – whether that’s constantly vocalizing or dancing in between reps. It feels like it’s been a long time from last summer, when a summer hamstring injury limited his ability to get involved until the regular season was well underway.
“Everybody knows about my hamstring. It kind of set me back and I had to take a lot of mental reps,” he said. “But this year I’ve been completely healthy and I’ve been able to do the things I know I can do. It’s going to keep getting better from here on out.”
Only the Cowboys know if Awuzie’s second season will include a position switch. Starting as far back as the draft, team officials have suggested that both he and Byron Jones have the flexibility to play safety if necessary.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last month that he’d prefer both players focus on cornerback, but he did acknowledge that their flexibility is a plus.
“We’ve talked about Byron and Chidobe. We certainly want them honed in on what we want them to do this year,” he said. “But at the same time, if we saw the right fit — whether at the free safety position or the strong safety position, because we know Jeff has flexibility, as well — we’ll certainly look at that.”
In the meantime, the Cowboys’ OTAs show Awuzie looking plenty comfortable right where he is.
“I’m starting to understand how everybody plays around me and understanding their jobs,” he said. “It’s helping me be comfortable in my job.”