IRVING, Texas -Following the torn Achilles that will cost safety Barry Church the rest of his season, the Cowboys are left scrambling to sort out the state of their defense's two security pieces.
On Monday Jason Garrett talked to the media about the safety position and all of the moving pieces that the team would have to address moving forward.
Church had exceeded expectations in his first year as a starter in the NFL, serving as a solid run stopper who was also disciplined in the passing game. However, the Cowboys have a number of options to fill the void he will be leaving. It is simply a matter of finding out what will be the best long term fit.
In an ideal scenario Sensabaugh would be starting at safety alongside Church. Unfortunately, he missed last Sunday's game against Tampa while he was nursing a calf injury. With one starting safety out for the season, Sensabaugh's health as the other starting safety becomes all the more important.
"Gerald seems to be making a lot of progress," Garrett said. "We do have the extra day this week, so we'll see how he comes back. The players come back in on Wednesday. He has done a nice job in his rehab. We certainly don't want to rush him back to quickly. With Barry being out on injured reserve, we'll have to address that need.
If Sensabaugh is unable to play on Sunday, then the juggling of the available options will only become more difficult.
McCray was also a crucial part of filling in for the injured Sensabaugh against Tampa. Whenever Carr switched back to his natural position of cornerback, it was McCray who filled in at safety. Also, when Church went down with the injury, it was McCray who came into the game and played the rest of the snaps for Church.
It is assumed McCray will start at one safety position, at least for the time being, however, McCray is especially valuable to the team as a special teams player and his reps on special teams would likely be cut down.
"We certainly want him on special teams," Garrett said. "He's probably our best special teams player and has been for the past couple years … but we need him on defense too."
Whenever you have a season ending injury to a starter then there is always going to be the conversation of bringing someone else into the organization. Garrett confirmed that this is conversation that is happening within the Valley Ranch facility.
"I think the biggest thing is you have an idea of what you want, but then who's available to fill those spots?" Garrett said. "Obviously you want a guy that's game ready to play and knows our system and can contribute quickly, but you also want a guy that's young and can play special teams when the starter does come back. Often times it's hard to check all those boxes off."
While Sensabaugh sat out of the Tampa game, Brandon Carr switched positions by starting at safety and splitting his reps between safety and corner. The move was a pleasant surprise, not only because Carr seemed to do an excellent job at the position, but because it allowed the Cowboys to take advantage of their depth at corner and give more snaps to Mike Jenkins.
It is possible that the Cowboys ask a similar task of Carr by having him fill in for Church at the other safety spot.
Silva was impressive in training camp and through the preseason. He has also held his own in the playing time he has gotten in the regular season, particularly last Sunday against the Buccaneers.
Unfortunately the Cowboys' fourth-round draft pick will not be able to step up to play a defensive role anytime soon. Under normal circumstances this would be the perfect opportunity for a rookie to come in and make a name for himself, but injuries have derailed the start of Johnson's career. He missed nearly all of training camp and the preseason with two separate hamstring injuries, and on Monday Garrett informed the media he is also suffering from a back injury that will keep him out for the near future.