Secondary coach Jerome Henderson said the Cowboys lost some of their physicalness when they lost safety Barry Church last year.
“He was physical. He was hitting people. He was the physical presence we wanted,” Henderson said Thursday as the Cowboys assistant coaches met with reporters.
Church, who will be entering his fourth year, is expected to be recovered from an Achilles injury that finished his season in Week 3 last year. He had won the safety job in training camp, a big climb for an undrafted free agent out of Toledo.
“He only played 2 ½ games, but in those games he played really well,” Henderson said.
Henderson said Church showed the deep range that the Cowboys asked themselves if he had.
“I got here and studied the tape – you didn’t see him make plays on the back end,” Henderson said. “The first play of the game against the Giants, they take a shot and he knocks the ball down in the deep part of the field.
“I was excited for him and was disappointed for him and for us when he went down.”
Henderson said the Cowboys also missed Orlando Scandrick down the stretch. The slot corner broke his hand in the Thanksgiving game and missed the rest of the season.
“You missed his experience in the slot,” Henderson said. “If you looked at us the first part of the year, the slot receivers never made big plays on us. We handled the slot in bunches. A lot of that was his experience and working things out, having seen a lot of stuff in there.
“When we lost him, we lost a lot. He prepares and studies so hard at his aspect of the game, he knows those looks, he knows the routes. He will get everybody on the same page and tell them what to anticipate.”
-- Carlos Mendez