Cowboys' safeties off to good start

OXNARD, Calif. -- The focus of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive upgrade in the offseason was at cornerback.

They spent megabucks on free agent Brandon Carr and megapicks to trade up six spots to take Morris Claiborne in the first round. The hope is that better coverage leads to more sacks, pressures and, ultimately, interceptions.

But what ailed the Cowboys in their December fade was not just seeing Terence Newman give up a big play or get used like a hurdle in the Summer Olympics. Safety play was more than just a bit player, and that came after the Cowboys sunk a new contract into Gerald Sensabaugh.

In the April draft, the Cowboys were extremely interested in Alabama's Mark Barron, but they didn't like the cost of having to move up to take a safety.

The Cowboys' plan to improve the position was to sign free agent Brodney Pool and draft Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Pool, who received only a $100,000 signing bonus, was cut the first week of camp, and Johnson has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury.

But after Monday's 3-0 preseason shutout of the Oakland Raiders, the Cowboys have to like what they see from their safeties.

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