Safety was a problem for the Dallas Cowboys all season in 2008. Whether it was injury (yet again) or just poor play, the defense gave up countless big plays due to mistakes at safety. Ken Hamlin returns as a starter, but there will be someone new on the starting defense with him. Gerald Sensabaugh was signed as a potential starter and several players were drafted. It will be very important that the depth and the overall play of the safeties improve this season. I'll be watching closely to see if the Cowboys have finally found the answer at this position.
Ken Hamlin - Hamlin had a down year last year. I'm sure part of it was due to the fact that he was constantly trying to compensate for poor play from Roy Williams or Pat Watkins or Courtney Brown or Keith Davis...or whoever happened to be out there with during the game. I think he was forced to go against his aggressive nature due to the injury problems. I want to see him back to his 2007 form in training camp. Not only does he need to do a better job breaking on the ball but I also want to see improved tackling.
Gerald Sensabaugh - He looks like the early front runner for the starting job. From what we are being told by the coaches and media it looks like Sensabaugh is going to be a free agency steal. He came to the Cowboys on a cheap one-year deal so he'll be out to prove himself and in order to earn a long term, high paying deal. I want to see him matched up on the tight end since isolated Roy Williams became such a popular tactic over the last few years. I also want to get a look at his speed, quickness and general awareness in the passing game.
Michael Hamlin - Hamlin is 6'2" and about 215 pounds so he brings some excellent size to the table. He looks like a guy who can develop into a starter but he'll need to contribute on special teams this year. I've heard a few media members talk about his potential but we'll all have to wait and see how he looks in training camp and the preseason. My concern about this Hamlin will be his speed and quickness. Size is great, but he has to show the ability to stay with the faster receivers during camp.
DeAngelo Smith - He played a lot of cornerback at Cincinnati, but he is going to be moved to safety with Dallas. He does have some experience there, but his ability to cover man-to-man is going to give him a great chance to develop into a solid player. He will also be expected to play on special teams. I am excited to see what he can do with his speed and quickness at the safety position.
Pat Watkins - Pat was another injury casualty in 2008. He is a very good special teams player but hasn't shown much during his time on the team at safety. He has been given a lot of playing time and I'm afraid that he is what he is at this point. He can be counted on to do a good job on special teams and fill in at safety in a pinch. He just needs to stay healthy. I want to see if the coaches have improved his tackling technique during the offseason so his injuries will be less frequent.
Courtney Brown - I don't know if he will make the team. He is small and looked out of his league in his brief time last year. He is going to have to show some big-time improvement to make the final roster.
The Cowboys went out of their way to give themselves options at safety. They didn't land a big name, but I have to believe that one or two of the new guys will show the ability to get the job done. Sensabaugh might end up being the best safety on the team if what I'm reading from the media proves to be true. Let's just hope the injury bug doesn't hit this position like it did last year.