Ryan Breaks Down The Competition At Safety

Annually, the Cowboys are looking for answers at no less than one of their starting safety positions.

Not since the duo of Roy Williams and Darren Woodson broke up has the position really had much continuity, and it's been a source of constant problems for the defense, with such starters coming and going as Tony Dixon, Lynn Scott, Keith Davis, Pat Watkins, Ken Hamlin, Alan Ball and Abram Elam.

It's back to the drawing board again this year. After playing on three straight one-year contracts, Gerald Sensabaugh got a long-term commitment from the club last year, but the other job is wide open.

The primary competitors are Brodney Pool, a seven-year veteran who the Cowboys signed to a modest one-year deal in March, and former undrafted Barry Church, who has played mostly special teams and the occasional subpackage over the last two years.

"I think that's going to be a hell of a competition," Ryan said. "Both of them are kind of coming off being banged up, but both of them have got a lot of talent, so I think it'll be a good thing. I think Gerald is clearly establishing himself as a leader back there."

After Church got the first chance with the starting defense in Week 1 of OTAs, the two split that duty on Wednesday.

By all appearances, the position battle is wide open, and could last deep into the preseason.

"Brodney Pool has had a lot of success for me in the past, and Barry Church is one of our better players from last year, the way I evaluated it," Ryan said. "It ought to be a great competition."

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