*With training camp right around the corner, DallasCowboys.com is taking a look at each position group in a 10-part series, ending today with the safety position. *
Top of the chart: Barry Church
What a difference a couple of years make. To start the 2011 season, Church was entering his second year and hoping to just make the team once again. Now, despite his Achilles injury last year, he enters the season with a new contract and as the only solidified player at safety. Church has fully recovered from the torn Achilles that wiped out his final 13 games last year, and is expected to be the starter at free safety, although the Cowboys use the two safeties interchangeably. Before his injury, he looked to be on his way to becoming a really good player. That's one reason why the Cowboys decided to give him a four-year extension worth $12.4 million last year, even after he was placed on IR with the injury.
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This has to be a spot for him, right? Johnson hasn't shown much of anything, but you know the Cowboys like him for a reason. They're giving him a chance to compete for the starting job along with Will Allen, even though Johnson has never played in an NFL game. He suffered three different hamstring injuries throughout last year. Johnson and Allen are expected to compete for the starting job with J.J. Wilcox also figuring into the mix.
Still need to know … Everything [embedded_ad]
What do you know at safety? You don't know how Barry Church will play after the Achilles injury, although he's looked good in the offseason. You don't know who will start opposite of him between Johnson, Allen and Wilcox. You don't know if Johnson can stay healthy. Allen hasn't been much of a starter in his career. Wilcox has only played safety one year of his life, and that was last season at Georgia Southern. You don't know how Danny McCray and Eric Frampton will fit in. So instead of figuring out one thing we don't know, it's hard to come up with something that we do know about safety. Saying the position is up for grabs is quite an understatement.
Don't forget about … Jakar Hamilton
The Cowboys had a fifth-round grade on him and were ecstatic to get him in rookie free agency after the draft. The club has had success with those types of players in the past. Hamilton has SEC talent, having played at Georgia before academic issues landed him at South Carolina State. If he can come in and contribute on special teams early, he'll definitely have a spot on this roster as the Cowboys will give him time to develop as a safety.