Danny McCray ready for prime time

IRVING, Texas -- Technically, Danny McCray did not make the first start of his career last week against Tampa Bay because the Cowboys opened up with a nickel package that had Brandon Carr playing safety.

But Church played 46 of 60 defensive snaps, the most he has played to date.

McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams’ captain, could get his first start Monday against Chicago with Barry Church out for the year with an Achilles injury.

“I think I’m about as ready as I can be,” McCray said. “I’ve been practicing well, studying, looking at a lot of film, getting on the same page as my teammates. I feel like I’m ready to go.”

McCray’s goal entering this season was to show he could be more than a special teams player. Now he’ll get his chance.

“Danny’s always been real dependable,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “That’s the one thing, he’s always going to approach the game like he’s a starter and those are the guys you love because as a backup you get no work and then you have to go function in the game. Danny’s always doing that the last two years I’ve been here. I know he’s worked hard for this opportunity and the guys are depending on him. We know we can count on him.”

Ryan has had to mix and match his safety play in the first three games because of injuries. The Gerald Sensabaugh-McCray pairing is the seventh the Cowboys have had to use so far.

“It’s been difficult at times because we’ve had multiple guys get injured, not just one,” Ryan said. “So we always have a backup and a spare ready to go. That’s what you’ve got to do in this league because you never know. It happens so fast. I think Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker do a great job of (figuring) what’s the next step if somebody goes down. We’ve got an answer and it’s not an answer that’s a blind one. We practice these guys so they got a chance to play.”