Nov 20, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive back Barry Church (42) gestures on the field prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Even Without Church the Cowboys Mustn’t Lose Faith

When the bells stopped ringing on Sunday, Church was done for the year. With 7:31 left in the third quarter, Barry Church fell to the turf grasping his right ankle. Team trainers would soon realize it’s a ruptured Achilles and would surely be season-ending. Church knew immediately he was done.

“When I was on the sidelines, it was a shock: ‘Wow this is what happened,’ ” Church said. “But once I sat down and had a talk with myself and said, ‘I can’t be negative about anything,’ and if I keep being negative, you become a negative person. So you have to keep being positive and see what happens.”

Recovery time for a ruptured Achilles can vary, dependent on the severity of the tear. For a professional athlete a typical tear usually takes close to 11 months*. The chance of rerupturing the same Achilles is fairly slim. Percutaneous surgery is thought of as the surgery with the higher reinjury rate but even it only holds a 5 in 100 chance of rerupture**.  In 1 of 3 rupture cases the player is unable to resume their professional career. That may seem high but can be partially attributed to the talent level and/or conditioning of the player. For instance, if a fringe player in training camp ruptures his Achilles and fails to come back, who’s to say that player would have ever made the team in the first place? All things considered, Barry Church should be able to make a full recovery. Church is not an overweight or largely built player. He has excelled in the NFL from his instincts and knowledge rather than relying on his raw athletic ability. Church will be back.

In the meantime the Dallas Cowboys must find a replacement immediately. They signed safety Eric Frampton, career backup and special teams veteran on Tuesday. He hardly fills the hole left by Church. Matt Johnson is unproven and injured. Mana Silva is a rookie free agent who is still learning the position. It’s a misuse of talent to use Brandon Carr in this capacity (as they did last week). Mario Butler can play both corner and safety so he could be resigned. But bringing in a veteran free agent seems like the likeliest of options. Here are some free agents available the Cowboys may be interested in signing:

Nov 14 2010; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants safety Deon Grant (34) defends against Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during the second half at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

Deon Grant

Age: 33 Height: 6’2″ Weight: 215 lbs

Grant most recently played with the New York Giants in 2011. He’s known as smart and reliable safety possibly at the end of his career. In his 12 seasons in the NFL he has 30 interceptions and 776 tackles. The most attractive bullet on Deon’s resume is his versatility in the secondary. He can play either safety spot and cornerback. Adding a Super Bowl winner wouldn’t hurt either…

O.J. Atogwe

Age: 31 Height 5’11″ Weight: 205

O.J. Atogwe seems to be a free agent every year. He was signed by the Eagles in the off season but was cut in training camp due to on-going injuries. With 25 interceptions and 373 career tackles he is a proven veteran who could also assist the cowboys secondary. O.J. is not nearly as reliable or versatile as Deon Grant. He is best suited as a Free Safety and is fairly injury prone.

Jan 23, 2011; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Jets safety Brodney Pool (22) carries the ball after an interception in the third quarter of the 2011 AFC championship playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Brodney Pool

Age: 28 Height 6’2″ Weight: 214

Brodney was signed by the Cowboys in the offseason but was cut in training camp after injuries hampered his ability to participate in training camp and Barry Church began to step up and seize the starting role. Brodney has had up and down years but played well under Rob Ryan in the past so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility he could do it again.

References:

*Dr Mark Schwartz: 11 month recovery time.

**Wong J, et al. (2002). Quantitative review of operative and nonoperative management of Achilles tendon ruptures. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 30(4): 565-575.

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