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Cowboys’ training camp battles: Strong Safety log-jam

Cowboys’ training camp battles: Strong Safety log-jam

Training camp kicks off in a few weeks for the Dallas Cowboys and there are still a lot of questions for this team. One of the biggest questions is the safety group coming into the 2019 season.  Safety has plagued the team for years as they look for consistency at the position.

While the free safety position looks to be locked down by up-and-coming star Xavier Woods, the strong safety position is still up for grabs.  At least three players could vie for the starting spot.  Here’s how I look at the strong safety position turning out once we get to the regular season.

Jeff Heath

The  “Goat”  as he’s been known by the fans hasn’t been the best prototypical safety.  He isn’t the best at coverage sometimes and his technique isn’t perfect by any means.  Heath just isn’t someone you would call a good safety.

Yet, he’s carved a role on this team the last few seasons as a special team ace and playmaker in the backfield.  For his lack of coverage skills, Heath leads the team in picks the last four seasons.  He just has a knack for finding the ball.  Remember his epic play in 2017 in Oakland?  That is why Heath is going into camp as the starter.  Coaches know what he brings to the table.

George Iloka

The Cowboys didn’t do much to address their safety concerns in the draft but they did manage to bring in George Iloka in for a one-year deal.  The 7-year veteran was brought in to bring some stability to the position and see if maybe he can take over as the starter while the team pushes looking for a starter next season.

Yet, so far during OTAs and mini-camps, Heath has managed to take the reigns as the starter.  This isn’t a big surprise since Iloka is still getting used to the new system that the Cowboys run. Yet, judging by his career, don’t expect too much from the veteran safety. He isn’t a flashy player, but he is a sound tackler and is decent in coverage.

That is one thing that helps his case against Heath, who missed 19 tackles last season per Pro Football Focus.  Yet, in the end, I think Heath still gets the nod to be the starter because the coaches trust him more. Illoka could get plenty of snaps during the season though.

Kavon Frazier

Frazier has turned into a special teams ace in his time with the Cowboys, but unfortunately, he hasn’t really been consistent as a strong safety.  His tackling is spotty, despite being a hard hitter and his coverage skills are still to be desired.

Frazier is now entering the final year of his contract and this could be the year the Cowboys might decide to let him go. He hasn’t made it easier on himself by getting a procedure on his knee that has put him out until training camp.

It has allowed rookie Donovan Wilson get some needed snaps during OTAs and mini-camps.  Frazier would need a very good training camp to hold off Wilson, who is a cheaper version of himself right now.

Donovan Wilson

The rookie from Texas A&M has impressed his coaches so far with his play and his size, but he is still learning a lot during the mini camp sessions.  Wilson has a lot to learn and might not be ready for significant playing time this season, but he will have plenty of time to show his worth during preseason.

With a excellent training camp, Wilson could surprise everyone by jumping over Frazier in the final cuts.  We will see, but as for now, he is slated to be the fourth safety on the roster.

This position group should be one of the highlights during training camp, since no one player has a stranglehold on the position.  This could be in flux all the way until final cuts are announced and should give plenty of drama for the fans to watch during training camp.

Staff writer covering the Dallas Cowboys | A DFW native, EA has grown to love his local teams with a fury. His passion for sports led him to get a degree in Journalism from the University of North Texas. He has aspirations to be a sports writer and radio host. He has articles in multiple publications online, including The Dallas Morning News. He also is a part-time host on 103.3 FM ESPN Dallas' "Game Night" and a co-host on the Internet Radio Show "Best for Business"

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