DALLAS’ TRIPLE-CORNER FLEX DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboy CB Brandon Carr willing to play safety the rest of the season; three cover corners could be the solution to pass-happy NFL.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr has accepted the accolades that accompanied his surprising – and successful – debut as an NFL safety in Sunday’s 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Carr played much of the game at safety in place of injured starter Gerald Sensabaugh, who skipped the contest with a strained calf.
Carr’s future could include an extended run at that position now that Barry Church, the other starting safety, is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Sensabaugh’s availability remains day-to-day, said coach Jason Garrett, which could mean additional time for Carr at safety while Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins handle the cornerback spots.
Although he signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract in the off-season to be the Cowboys’ shutdown cornerback, and coaches still consider him their best player at that position, Carr said he would embrace an extended run at safety if that is in the best interest of the team.
“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 coach 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.
Because the Cowboys are expected to sign a veteran safety this week to replace Church, who is headed to the injured reserve list, Carr’s days at the position may be numbered. But it became clear against Tampa Bay that having three cover corners on the field at the same time _ Carr, Jenkins and Claiborne _ can be a positive defensive move in today’s pass-happy NFL.
Might the three-corners defense become a Cowboys’ staple going forward?
“I have no clue,” Carr said, smiling. “That’s the good thing about being a player. After each game is over with, you tell me what to do and I say, ‘Ok, coach’ and get ready and prepare myself for Sunday. Each week is going to be exciting to see what new wrinkle we add to our defense. I feel like we have a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions, so, hopefully, that will help us out in our versatility and our different looks. It’s going to be fun.”
RELATED: Jason Garrett credits Rob Ryan, Jerome Henderson for idea of Carr to safety
Jason Garrett gave defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and secondary coach Jerome Henderson credit for finding a way to have Brandon Carr play safety and Mike Jenkins to play cornerback while also keeping Vincent Jackson in check.
The Cowboys needed a way to make up for the loss of safety Gerald Sensabaugh, and putting Carr at safety was one way to do that and also to open up snaps at cornerback for Jenkins, who had been working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.
“I think it was a real good idea by Rob and by Jerome early on in the week to do that,” Garrett said. “I think it was a great job by Brandon Carr of embracing the idea, saying, ‘Hey, I can do this. Absolutely, I’m excited to do this. I haven’t played safety since high school.’ He was kind of champing at the bit to do it.
“The concerns we had in the discussion was, they have this big guy, Vincent Jackson, and we have this big corner, this is the best matchup, should we really do this? And I think the combination of him playing corner but also playing safety and getting Jenks out there was a good way to go, and I think everybody responded really well to it.”
Garrett said now that Carr has put in some time at safety, the Cowboys have developed a little versatility.
“It’s nice to have that option in your hip pocket,” he said. “If we get in trouble and don’t have other options, we can say, let’s go back and do that again. We obviously want him to play corner. That’s what we feel like he’s best at. But to be able to do that with a guy to absorb an injury, that’s a good thing to have in your hip pocket going forward.”
Before the Dallas Cowboys defeated Tampa Bay 16-10 last Sunday, the ranks were thinning at safety. Starter Gerald Sensabaugh had been listed as inactive for the game, prompting the Cowboys to partially use cornerback Brandon Carr to fill his spot.
Yet just as the Cowboys patched one hole, another opened when Barry Church tore his right Achilles tendon.
With Sensabaugh’s status unclear for the Cowboys’ next game against Chicago and Church placed on the injured reserve list, management began seeking reinforcements at the position. And after working out five veteran defensive backs today, the Cowboys signed Eric Frampton to fill Church’s roster spot.
“Obviously, you would like a guy who is game-ready to play and knows our system that can play quickly and contribute quickly,” head coach Jason Garrett said Monday before any move was made. “But you’d also like a guy who is young and who can contribute on specials teams when the starter comes back.”
Frampton, who was cut by Minnesota last month, seemed to meet Garrett’s criteria, particularly because of his sterling performance on special teams. Over the previous five seasons he led Minnesota’s coverage units with 85 tackles.
Frampton could conceivably assume the responsibilities of safety Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams captain who has taken on more defensive duties in wake of the injuries to Sensabaugh and Church.
At the very least, Frampton gives the Cowboys more options as they try to manage the situation at safety.
So far, the Cowboys have already shown some flexibility by positioning Carr there.
ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys sign Eric Frampton to boost safety position, special teams | Barry Church placed on IR
The Dallas Cowboys signed safety Eric Frampton to take Barry Church’s roster spot.
Church was placed on injured reserve today after season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Church started the first three games of the season, with eight tackles and two passes defensed. He also had two special teams tackles.
Frampton, a fifth-round choice of the Raiders in 2007, has played in 76 career games, mostly on special teams. He has four tackles and one forced fumble.
Besides the Raiders, Frampton played the last five seasons in Minnesota, mostly as a special teams contributor. He was a fifth-round pick by Oakland in 2007, but the Raiders cut the safety from Washington State in September of that year.
He went to the Detroit Lions for a month and a half before signing with the Vikings in Oct. 2007. Frampton didn’t make Minnesota’s final 53-man roster this year.
Frampton should be able to provide more depth at safety in the coming weeks. The injuries at safety caused the Cowboys to bring in a player who’s had some experience in regular season games. Though he’s never started a game at safety in the NFL, Frampton appeared in all but two games the last four seasons.
The Cowboys worked out four others — Dan Carey, Tyrone Culver, Antwaun Molden and Aaron Rouse — on Tuesday before deciding on Frampton.
Danny McCray, the team’s best special teams player, is expected to start in Church’s spot. The Cowboys’ other starting safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, missed last week’s game with a calf injury. Cornerback Brandon Carr played safety in the nickel packages, with Mike Jenkins playing in Carr’s spot at corner.