When it comes to training camp, obviously you must have position battles. That's how you find out who can really play and who can't. That's how you find out how a player competes without having to see it in a real game.
And I also believe that if the competition is close between a veteran and young player, then the vet should probably get the nod in camp and let the young buck beat him out.
That's if it's close. If it's not, then don't waste any time and let's see what we need to see.
I say all that to get to this point: Barry Church needs to start. Or better yet, we need to see if Barry Church can start.
I know Brodney Pool signed this offseason, but there were many coaches and scouts around this organization who weren't on board with the move. And after a full offseason of three minicamps and nine OTA practices, it's unlikely those initial thoughts have changed.
Pool really did nothing to stand out one way or another. As a safety, that's not always the worst thing, especially in practice. While he wasn't making a lot of interceptions (I don't know if I saw one at all) or knocking down passes, he also wasn't lagging behind receivers for long touchdowns.
Even if Pool is much better than he looked this summer, what's the real upside? What if he's pretty good this year, like Abram Elam was? You're still looking for a safety next year in either free agency or the draft, or both.
At some point, you have to find out if these players can play. And up next is Barry Church.
For some reason, I've always liked this guy. I know Toledo isn't exactly gearing up for next year's BSC tournament, but it's a quality program in a quality conference (MAC). To not only start four years, but earn all-conference honors all four years shows me the guy (or really he was a kid when he started), knows how to get the job done and learn on the run.
In two years, he's done some impressive things. As a rookie, he made a few plays in that preseason game against San Diego when he had two goal-line tackles and then a nice fumble recovery and return that set up a touchdown. He also showed some versatility in last year's opener when he played cornerback when everyone was limping off with injuries.
He also played a little nickel linebacker midway through the year and he's been a consistent special teams player.
Church has done just about everything ……. But play safety.
He's a third-year player with some upside. I think the Cowboys should let Church start it off at strong safety and let Gerald Sensabaugh slide over to free. The way the Cowboys interchange these safeties, it really doesn't matter which one is strong or free.
But you know Matt Johnson will have a place on this team and maybe even he will get a shot to start.
But before they go that route, I'd give Barry Church a chance to work with the first-team defense and see if he can win the job outright.