IRVING, Texas –After bringing in five safeties to work out on Tuesday, the Cowboys settled on Eric Frampton, a five-year veteran who has never started a game in the NFL.
A season-ending injury to starter Barry Church has slid everyone up the depth chart. Special teams ace Danny McCray has been promoted to a starting role, and the Cowboys were looking for someone they could trust primarily in the kicking game, but also on defense, if he were to be thrust into playing.
"I think that role is always a combination," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We felt good about his experience as a teams guy and his productivity, and similarly we feel like he can go in and play defense. We felt like he was the best of the options available to us."
The Cowboys have had a cluster of injuries at safety early in the year. Gerald Sensabaugh was out in Week 3 with a calf injury, forcing the defense to adjust. In each of the last two weeks, McCray and Mana Silva finished the game with the first-team secondary. While fourth-round pick Matt Johnson continues to rehab from hamstring and back injuries, Frampton will step in as the fourth safety on the depth chart.
"We're going to try to teach him as quickly as we can," Garrett said. "We have an extra day this week. Obviously the health of our other players will affect how much he will play, but we'd like to get him ready to play both on defense and on special teams."
Though he wasn't one of the players brought in for a workout this week, since the Cowboys were already familiar with his skill set, the team wanted to keep hybrid defensive back Mario Butler, who had been released from the 53-man roster on Saturday to make room for linebacker Orie Lemon. After clearing waivers, Butler has been signed to the Cowboys practice squad, where he spent all of the 2011 season. Though he played some safety in training camp, the Cowboys felt he was best suited at cornerback, prompting the team to look elsewhere this week before settling on Frampton.