*(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features safety Danny McCray.) *
Name: Danny McCray
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 222
Experience: 3 seasons
Key stat:For the first time in his career, McCray did not lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles. His 18 stops were good for second behind Eric Frampton (21). McCray became the first player since Bill Bates (1989-90) to lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles in consecutive years when he led the team first two seasons in 2010 and 2011.
Contract Status:Restricted Free Agent
How He Played In 2012: It was a long season for Danny McCray and I don't mean that in a negative way but the amount of football that he had to play not only on special teams but as a starter on defense took its toll on him. McCray to his credit never led on how banged up he became as the season wore on. He has always played with a great deal of toughness and week to week he just continued to try and do his job but he did get exposed at times when the team needed him the most. McCray has never been the quickest when it came to coverage but then he had some mental mistakes and that was really out of character for him and the coaches had to find a way to work around having him on the field. McCray had always been a solid, wrap up tackler but again, I feel like the issues that he dealt with to play each week caused him problems here because he struggled with that consistency.
Where He Fits In 2013: I am not going to say that McCray wasn't prepared for the 2012 season but going into 2013 I think he will have a better understanding of what more he will need to do to get through an
entire season if he has to step in again. Mentally he now has that experience and that will help him. I believe that the club will look to draft a safety to be paired with Sensabaugh, Church and Johnson to allow McCray to focus on what he does best and that is being a captain on the special teams. McCray is one of those core guys that every good team needs to have and that will be his best fit.
Nick Eatman: The perception of McCray changed a couple of times last season. After being considered mainly as a special teams player early on, his stock rose in the first few games he took over for Barry Church as the starter. McCray was making solid tackles in the open field and the defense didn't lose much in Church's absence. But as the season wore on, McCray struggled more in pass defense, to the point the Cowboys eventually played Eric Frampton and Charlie Peprah more in coverage. But let's not forget why McCray is on this team – because he's pretty great on special teams. That's his role and if I'm the Cowboys, I'm signing him to a cap-friendly deal of 4-5 years to keep him around as your special teams ace.