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The Dallas Cowboys have been hard hit by injuries to the safety position and are searching for solutions wherever they can find them.
The Cowboys entered the Tampa Bay game light on safety valves; so it's a good thing the Bucs had no interest in venturing into the dangerous deep end of the Cowboys Stadium field on Sunday. Unfortunately, we can't expect the Chicago Bears to be such willing participants and as such, Dallas made a move today to shore up the safety ranks. They have signed free agent Eric Frampton to assist in the challenge, per The Mothership.
Starting free safety Gerald Sensabaugh was out on Sunday with his calf injury, and starting strong safety Barry Church was nursing a quad strain. The team has been without fourth-round pick Matt Johnson for a variety of reasons, including hamstring strains to each leg and a recently admitted-to back injury according to head coach Jason Garrett. Church was able to play on Sunday, but tore his Achilles and was lost for the season. He spent today having successful surgery on it after being put on IR.
"It’s definitely a heart-breaker for me," Church said after the game. "I was definitely looking forward to going out there and leading our defense."
This made the move for Frampton necessary, despite the glowing reviews that starting cornerback Brandon Carr earned as a fill-in safety for a lot of the game against Tampa. It's doubtful the Cowboys plan to give Frampton a shot at starting; the other options areDanny McCray or Mana Silva. Silva accrued 12 snaps and incurred a penalty. McCray played plenty against Tampa and according to Pro Football Focus did extremely well in his 47 snaps.
McCray earned a +1.7 cumulative grade overall, including a +1.4 pass coverage grade; this despite not recording a single tackle or assist.
For what it's worth, Brandon Carr is willing to continue to line up wherever necessary; as he should. A $50 million contract means you go where you're needed most.
"If that’s what we have to do for us to get our best 11 on their 11 and to get off the field and win ball games, I’m all for it," Carr said. "I came here with one thing in mind and that was to win ball games."
Although he last played safety in high school, and only briefly then, Carr said he is willing to spend the rest of the season there if coacj Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan believes it is in the team’s best interest.
"If this is the role that I’m going to have to have this whole season, then I’m going to accept it and be ready to work and have everybody ready to go when my number’s called," Carr said.
But while Carr remains an extremely viable option, as the Cowboys can get all four of their top corners on the field at the same time while disguising coverages, they may give Frampton a look. He has never started in a game before, and that's over a five-year career. He did play in all but two games last season with Minnesota, but as a special teams player. He made 18 tackles on the season.
His last foray into the defensive backfield came in 2010, when he lined up at free safety for the Vikings against the Bears. He earned a -1.3 PFF passing grade on 34 snaps; giving up one reception on two targets for eight yards.
Today though, he beat out four other competitors that Dallas brought in for workouts. Antwaun Molden, Tyrone Culver, Don Carey and Aaron Rouse were all told no by the club today. Whether or not he earned the roster spot based on safety play or special teams prowess remains to be seen. Our first answers will arrive on Monday night, under the bright lights against Chicago.