Looking at the state of the Cowboys safety group right now isn’t a lot of fun.
Recently here at BTB, nine of us outlined our latest 53-man rosters. The safety position group was one of the bigger crap shoots of the entire exercise.
At least every one of the seven safeties on the team got one vote while Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier are all universally believed to make the team. That’s three for-sures, but 33% of the group was in doubt on Monday when Jeff Heath left practice with an injury.
Cowboys starting safety Jeff Heath is injured. Limping slightly while walking along side athletic trainers.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 13, 2018
S Jeff Heath is on the sidelines trying to move around here. He might return.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 13, 2018
Cowboys S Jeff Heath leaving the field with his left ankle taped said, "Yep, I'm good." pic.twitter.com/v3mmbgyoGw— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 13, 2018
No issue for S Jeff Heath, who left practice with a sprained ankle. He was ready to return but was told to wait because practice was almost done.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) August 14, 2018
Thankfully, Heath was alright, but the 15 minutes where his status was in doubt was long enough for Cowboys fans everywhere to be reminded of just how thin the safety spot is.
If everything breaks right this season, there’s no doubt the Cowboys secondary can be better, especially under the tutelage of Kris Richard; however, the overwhelming likelihood is that things aren’t going to totally break right and that in fact there will be an injury or two to overcome. That’s the way football goes.
The incomparable Bob Sturm highlighted this idea better than most, noting how the safety group is somewhat of a house of cards built on itself. Jeff Heath’s backup, in a bit of irony, is Xavier Woods who, obviously, is the team’s other starting safety. That’s not ideal.
Good time to remind everyone that the starters at FS and SS are the backups at FS and SS. FS: Woods then Heath SS: Heath then Woods https://t.co/DMSZNFC7tj— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) August 13, 2018
Of course the Cowboys have Kavon Frazier (who had his own scare early on in training camp), but even he is technically the third preferred option at strong safety (Xavier Woods as the second, but you can’t clone him, imagine though...).
It’s impossible to discuss the safety position in Dallas and not bring up Earl Thomas, but the stretch of time where people were worrying about Jeff Heath definitely got the gears turning in people’s minds. Earl Thomas (or almost anyone else for that matter) would provide more than a superstar on the defense, he would provide much-needed depth at a critical position.
The Cowboys aren’t in a position where they absolutely need to trade for Earl Thomas or sign this or that safety, but they very well could be if things go wrong. They’ve done a great job at preparing for armageddon at other position groups, it would be great if they did so at safety before it is too late.