Barry Church undergoes root canal

OXNARD, Calif. -- As the starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys, Barry Church has to take on players bigger, faster and stronger all the time to succeed.

So it is somewhat ironic that a Jolly Rancher led to his absence from Monday's practice.

A cherry-flavored Jolly Rancher, to be precise.

Before flying to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp, Church chipped his tooth on a Jolly Rancher and he kind of ignored the pain.

"I woke up [Monday] morning and the pain was crazy, so I had to get it taken care of," Church said.

Church underwent a root canal. The pain of the root canal nearly buckled Church, who had surgery on a torn Achilles last season. He has to go back to the dentist to complete the process on Monday, which will come after a cross-country flight from Canton, Ohio, to California with the Cowboys playing in the Hall of Fame Game.

"This is the first time I had to go to the dentist [for a procedure like this]," Church said. "I don't want to go back. It was terrible."

When his teammates and coaches found out why he missed practice, Church caught all sorts of good-natured grief.

"I took the punches and kept rolling," he said with a laugh.

Church will return to practice Tuesday, but he will change his diet.

"No more Jolly Ranchers," Church said. "I've got to stick to the soft stuff: Starbursts, Skittles, all that."