Not since his junior season at Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh has Barry Church found himself playing the cornerback position. And he said it wasn't too long before he found out safety was a better spot. That's where he excelled enough to be a four-time all-conference performer at Toledo and now have a job in the NFL.
But sometimes, that background will be needed once again. The Cowboys were in a desperate way Sunday night in the Meadowlands with the cornerbacks dropping like flies. And it was Church who ended up playing cornerback in the nickel defense.
"It's been a while since I did that," Church laughed. "But when you get in the middle of the game and things like that happen, you can't worry about it. You just have to trust your instincts and go play. That's what I did."
And that's just the latest example of the Cowboys starting to figure out just what this second-year player can do.
It seems like everything they put on his plate, Barry Church handles it.
Last year, they inserted him on the goal-line defense and he not only held his own, but made some key plays, including a goal-line tackle to save a touchdown against the Lions.
While he didn't play much on special teams in college, seeing that he was a four-year starter, Church has developed into of Joe DeCamillis' top three players on all of the coverage units. Church tied for the third on the team last year with 16 special teams tackles.
And even this year, he began training camp as a first-team safety until both Abram Elam and Gerald Sensabaugh were signed. But since they only signed for one-year deals each, it's likely Church still figures into the long-term plans at safety.
"I don't really worry about any of that or how it'll work out," Church said. "You try to stay focused for this week's game. I've got a job to do and hopefully when my number is called, I can step up and make the plays."
According to his position coach, Church has been doing just that.
"He's around the ball a lot," defensive backs coach Brett Maxie said. "We think Barry has done a really good job this year. He's gotten a lot better in all areas. We trust him to make the right plays."
And they're even trusting him to play positions he hasn't done since high school.