The Cowboys were supposed to have quite a position battle at the safety spot. But when veteran Brodney Pool reported to camp and couldn't pass his conditioning test, leading to him being waived outright on Monday, the focus shifted to Barry Church.
The third-year pro from Toledo has made steady progress each year, and now it appears it's his time to shine.
What were your thoughts when you found out the team cut Brodney Pool? What did you think it might mean for you?
Church: You don't want anything bad like to happen for your teammate. This is a business. But just for them to release him kind of shows me they have a little confidence in me and a little confidence in my game. So I'm just going to go out there and keep trying to produce at a high level and hopefully I'll be a starter Sept. 5.
Did you enter camp with a chip on your shoulder? You probably weren't thrilled they signed Pool in the first place.
Church: It was a little surprising to me at the beginning. But I just knew they wanted competition at that safety (position) to bring out the best in both of us and that's what it did. I felt it brought out the best in my game and here I am now taking the first-team reps and hopefully I can continue at that.
What have you learned from working next to Gerald Sensabaugh?
Church: It's been great learning from Gerald in the offseason. That's who I worked with to fine-tune my talents in the offseason, especially in my man coverage skills. [Sensabaugh] helped me out a lot with that. Working on tight end releases and working with Jason Witten one-on-one in the offseason helped me fine-tune my craft and I felt like my tackling was down. In the box, things were pretty good, just the deep part of the field, working with Gerald in the offseason helped me take my game to another level.
You've continued to improve and have a bigger role each year. What do you attribute that to?
Church: It's all about being confident. That comes with hard work. I feel a little bit more confident in my game, a little bit more confident in the system. Last year, we didn't have OTAs or anything like that, so we weren't able to cover the defense beforehand. This year, I feel a little bit more confident. The coaches, I feel like, feel more confident in me as well.
How good do you think this defense can be?
Church: Honestly, the sky's the limit for us. We've got a lot of playmakers. We've got guys to lean on and some good leaders. I hope to be a big part of that. But we know we're going to jell and come together. When we do, I think we have a chance to be really good.
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