Jeff Heath may be nominally a strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys but in actuality his primary contributions to the team come as a special teams player. It was his efforts on special teams that first brought the undrafted free agent to the coaches attention during the 2013 training camp. Heath spared no effort in his determination to make the club despite being given little chance by the experts. Although he was forced into duty at the safety slot, Heath is one of those unsung players whose career will live and ultimately die based on his ability to get the job done on special teams. The last two seasons he has been able to secure a role on the roster will his effort on teams but now he faces competition for his job.
Blogging The Boys editor Dave Halprin covered the re-signing of former Cowboys special teams ace Danny McCray; McCray was Heath before Heath joined the squad. After a year with the Chicago Bears, the former Cowboy has returned to where his career started. McCray is also a strong safety whose primary role is as a special teamer. Both players share the same basic strengths and weaknesses in their game. Both are capable of making a big play on special teams, but if forced into any significant action at safety, each leaves something to be desired. They also share the competitive heart necessary for a special teams player to carve out a career in the National Football League.
This is the type of situation that Jason Garrett loves to set up because he believes that competition for each slot makes the whole team stronger. My colleague, Rabblerousr, explained the Rooster's philosophy when it comes to players pushing each other.
Jason Garrett wants the Cowboys to have competition throughout the roster. And, as we know, competition for the final spot tends to push upward, as the third-stringers push the number two guys, who keep the burner on under the starters' backsides.
That is exactly what re-signing McCray will do for the Cowboys. Heath and McCray will likely be battling it out for just one roster slot when camp begins. Two men, both down-roster talents who fought their way into the NFL the hard way, will be laying it on the line at every opportunity to prove that they are worthy to once again leave California as members of the Dallas Cowboys. In this battle, each man will serve to make the other better and by inspiration both should make their teammates better as well. The winner will have left everything he has on the field, and that is what Jason Garrett expects of the privileged few who are chosen to wear the star on their helmets.
Competition, it is The Way Of The Rooster. Just as in the TV series The Highlander, in the end there can only be one. The one who wants it the most will experience another season at Valley Ranch, the other will be forced to look for work elsewhere in or out of the league. Regardless of the winner in this battle, the Dallas Cowboys will be a stronger organization due to the competition. That is a win for us, the fans.