IRVING, Texas – Barry Church is in the early parts of a comeback from Achilles’ tendon surgery, but the Dallas Cowboys safety has some peace of mind.
Last week the Cowboys signed Church to a four-year extension worth close to $9 million and an opportunity to add another $3 million through play-time escalators. He received a $2.5 million signing bonus.
“I’m glad they have a lot of faith in me,” Church said. “I was shocked a little bit. I thought I was going to have to come back from rehab and don’t have a deal or don’t have any security going into camp next year. They’re showing faith in me and I’m going to try to make it worth every penny for them.”
Church, who suffered the injury Sept. 23 vs. Tampa Bay on a non-contact play, said he will have the cast removed on Monday, “and then I can begin the real rehab.” He said he plans on being 100 percent by the time the offseason conditioning program begins next April.
He won the starting safety spot in the first week of training camp, allowing the team to cut veteran Brodney Pool, and had eight tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
“He played really well and again is the kind of guy we want on our team,” coach Jason Garrett said.
Church will use former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith and current Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall as inspirations in his rehab.
“Leon Hall did his last November and he was back in training camp and starting with the Bengals now,” Church said. “It’s not the same position but there’s a lot more running, but if he can do it I can do it too.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will play the only undefeated team left in the NFL on Sunday. They will play in a dome on Sunday. They will pay against an NFC South team.
What is this 2009 again?
The Cowboys hope so.
In 2009, the Cowboys beat 13-0 New Orleans inside the Superdome, 24-17.
"Going down to New Orleans I think will have a similar type feel in that you know you’re going against a great opponent that does a lot of things well and creates a lot of problems,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “You can draw on the fact of what you did as a team and individually to beat that opponent that day. What were some of the things that you were successful with, whether that was your approach, whether it was a certain fundamental thought that gave you a chance to do something … I don’t want to give away too much, but that allowed you have a chance to be a little better."
A fast start is a must.
“I can remember playing against New Orleans down there I think when they were undefeated and I think we scored pretty early in that game and that helped out a lot so …,” Romo said.
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game for a 14-0 lead with 5:15 left in the opening quarter. Romo hit Miles Austin for a 49-yard score to open the game and Marion Barber followed it with a 3-yard TD run as the Cowboys went on their way to a 24-17 win against the Saints.
That win propelled the Cowboys to the playoffs. At 3-4, the Cowboys could use a similar boost with a win Sunday at Atlanta.
“I just think we know we have to go up there and play our best game,” Romo said, “and do the little things right that give you a chance to win football games.”
During Sunday’s 29-24 loss to the New York Giants, the Cowboys might have played their best and worst offensive football of the season.
After three Tony Romo interceptions turned into a 23-0 New York Giants lead at Cowboys Stadium, the Cowboys rallied to pull ahead 24-23 with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
Between early in the second quarter and late in the third, the Cowboys scored on four-of-five possessions. The only possession that did not end with a score came with 13 seconds remaining before halftime and Romo kneeled out the clock.
We’ve questioned Garrett’s end-game play calling already this week – not running the ball to pick up a first down against a six-man box – and he said in his press conference Thursday the Cowboys‘ offense will probably be more balanced in the coming weeks.
According to Romo, he was pleased with the type of offense that Jason Garrett called to get Dallas back in the game.
“We really did a lot of things that I liked,” Romo said Wednesday on a conference call with media members in Atlanta. “I’m pushing coach to kind of get the offense more in that mode a little bit, which is nice. But styles make fights sometimes so we’ll look at different opponents and see different things.”
So, what did Romo like?
During those four drives, Romo was 17-of-23 passing for 252 yards and a touchdown. He also added a one-yard rushing score.
Of Romo’s 23 throws, he targeted Jason Witten 10 times and Miles Austin seven times. Dez Bryant had three passes thrown in his direction, John Phillips had two and James Hanna had one. With the Cowboys attempting to battle back from a four-score deficit, they only ran seven times on those four possessions, which included a Felix Jones four-yard touchdown.
Of Romo’s 17 completions, seven went for gains of 14 or more yards. Of his six incomplete passes, four came on deep throws.
If Garrett follows a similar gameplan Sunday night in Atlanta, Witten and Austin should be prepared to catch a lot of passes.
However, judging by what Garrett said Thursday, expect the Cowboys to be much more balanced than they were during those four drives.
“I just think we were efficient throwing the football,” Garrett said. “Obviously, Tony as the quarterback, appreciates that. We were able to throw the ball a lot of different ways against them and throw it to different guys and move the ball pretty consistently throughout the ballgame.
“But, at the same time, we got to be able to run the ball. We have to run the ball better than we did the other day and be a more balanced offense. We’ll continue to strive to do that well.”
Editors Note: Kevin Patra of NFL.com contributed to this post.