The Dallas Cowboys were hoping that second year safety Matt Johnson, number 37, would emerge as a strong candidate to start this season, and maybe even become their safety of the future.
But the 24-year-old Johnson was placed on injured reserve by the team Saturday, almost four weeks to the day that he suffered a foot injury in the Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins.
A fourth round pick out of Eastern Washington in 2012, he has yet to play a down of regular season NFL football. In his rookie year, he was on injured reserve because of hamstring issues, and now finds himself on that list again.
For the Cowboys, they can now look at Johnson as a real disappointment, a guy whom they banked their future on at the safety position, but a guy whom they have yet to see play in regular season action.
In what has been discussed ad-nauseum it seems like, it’s known that the Cowboys haven’t had stability at safety in a while. Darren Woodson was a mainstay in the 1990s, a future Hall of Famer. Roy Williams was great for his first few years in Dallas, making five pro bowl teams and garnering all-pro honors once. Since then though, it’s been a revolving door.
In 2007, Ken Hamlin came in and made the Pro Bowl, but was gone two seasons later. Pat Watkins was a 2006 draft choice out of Florida State, but he was a major disappointment and now is playing for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
In 2009, Gerald Sensabaugh was brought in, but was also a big disappointment, was released by the Cowboys on March 4 and ultimately retired shortly thereafter.
Brodney Poole came in from the New York Jets last summer, but failed his conditioning test and was released.
The Cowboys were banking on Johnson, along with Barry Church and JJ Wilcox being their core of future safeties. But just like in year’s past, the team is hugely let down at one of their weakest positions.
The waiting game for Johnson to actually get on the field in game action and see what he can do continues for the Cowboys, and his recent injury leaves doubt as to whether he’ll be back for a third season in Big D.
The Cowboys head into the regular season with Church and Will Allen as their likely starters at safety.
Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports.