It feels like the Dallas Cowboys have been trying to get the safety position figured out for quite some time now. They seemingly have their man at free safety with veteran Xavier Woods, however, the strong safety spot remains a question mark.
Jeff Heath, who had been the starter for the last several seasons, is now with the Las Vegas Raiders and has left a hole in the Cowboys secondary. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was signed during free agency and was set to take over the other safety position opposite the aforementioned Woods. To the surprise of many, though, a new candidate has emerged in the safety competition and that’s veteran Darian Thompson who’s having an excellent camp so far.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on S Darian Thompson: “I’ll say this: He definitely has lived up to his reputation. His work ethic, his workload capacity is outstanding. …He’s having a great camp.” Thompson has emerged as favorite to start in favor of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Last season, Thompson appeared in 15 games as a backup and special teams contributor. In his four starts, he registered 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three passes defended. He played in 39% of the team’s defensive snaps (424) and 50% of their special teams snaps (223).
When Thompson re-signed with the team in March he was seen more as a depth piece behind Clinton-Dix and someone who would create competition for the backup role with second-year talent Donovan Wilson. Now, it appears the confidence the organization had in bringing him back is paying off.
MM said safety Darian Thompson is having a great camp and is living up to his reputation.
If Thompson does win one of the starting safety roles it isn’t crazy to understand why the Cowboys would have confidence in him. In 2017 as a member of the New York Giants, Thompson started all 16 games opposite perennial Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins and played very well. He finished with 75 tackles, six passes defended, and an interception.
Although it’s a little disappointing that Clinton-Dix hasn’t stepped up into that starting role competition is always a good thing. With Thompson obviously applying the pressure to Clinton-Dix to start, and Wilson still trying to scratch and claw his way up the depth chart, the starting role opposite Woods has gotten a lot more interesting during this year’s training camp.
Thompson was once a dark horse to get major time on the field this season. But if things continue going the way they have been, Thompson could be one of the Cowboys starting safeties as they look to turn around a defensive unit that regressed in 2019.