IRVING, Texas - At the end of the last season, the Cowboys were looking for anyone to help and provide some depth on defense and special teams.
Mana Silva was able to do that last year, but despite spending the final month of the regular season with the Cowboys, he wasn't exactly a favorite to claim another roster spot this year.
The Cowboys signed a veteran in Brodney Pool and drafted Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Barry Church was pegged to compete for a spot and Danny McCray's roster spot seems rather solid as he continues to be the best special teams player on the team.
But as the Cowboys sit just nine days from the season opener, Silva's chances of making the team seem better than ever.
The safety position shuffled around because of injuries to both Johnson and now McCray. And more importantly, Silva is taking advantage of those opportunities, with three solid performances in the first three preseason games.
But as the Cowboys enter Wednesday's preseason finale against the Dolphins, Silva knows he will be playing a lot on both defense and special teams. He also knows it's his final chance of the preseason to shine. But he promises his mindset won't change.
"I'm just focused on what I've done from the first day," Silva said. "I just go as hard as I can every play. I've done that and now I just let the chips fall as they may."
While Church and Gerald Sensabaugh seem to have the starting spots locked up, Johnson figured to be a solid No. 3 safety with McCray also contributing on defense, along with his special teams "ace" role. But Johnson once again suffered a hamstring injury, an injury that kept him out for most of camp.
And McCray sustained a neck injury that might keep him out of action for a few days.
So once again, it opens the door for Silva, who made a game-clinching interception in the first preseason game against Oakland. The former University of Hawaii standout has also been praised by his coaches for his all-out effort on defense and special teams.
"Yeah I just try to go as fast as I can on every play and just try to make a play," said Silva, who admits this year has been more comfortable as he finally has a full offseason. "Last year was tough with the lockout. But I've been able to pick up the system more this summer and it's helped me be more comfortable in what I'm doing. Now I just want to keep playing and try to make this team."