Barry Church hopes to stop revolving door

OXNARD, Calif. -- For the fourth straight year, Gerald Sensabaugh will have a different partner as one of the Cowboys’ two starting safeties.

In 2009, Sensabaugh was paired with Ken Hamlin. In 2010, it was Alan Ball. Last year it was Abram Elam.

And now it’s … Barry Church.

“I’m definitely trying to stick around longer than one year,” Church said. “We’ll see what happens, though.”

Church is not a lock to be the starter for the Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants but with Brodney Pool unable to finish the conditioning test and Matt Johnson working back from a hamstring injury, Church is getting the first look.

Church has started one game in his two seasons but spent most of last season playing in substitution packages, including spending some time at inside linebacker.

“I feel like my versatility was a big key for me getting in the packages I was in,” Church said.

Now he spends most of his time at safety, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme is not a true free/strong safety combination.

“It’s more of right and left,” Church said. “They want us to learn both, but the strong safety is more likely to go down and be the thumper in the running game and the free safety will be back deep. But with motions happening and reloads, you’ve got to be able to play both positions.”