After choosing not to re-sign last year's starting safety, Abram Elam, the Dallas Cowboys brought in veteran Brodney Pool in free agency and selected Matt Johnson in the fourth round of this year's draft. All indications were that they were uncomfortable handing the starting safety job to Barry Church, opposite Gerald Sensabaugh.
Unfortunately, Pool failed a conditioning test and Johnson started training camp injured, giving Church the perfect opportunity to show what he could do with the starters.
Instead of being satisfied with having the job by default, Church went out every day and impressed the coaching staff by raising his game to a new level.
He was so impressive, in fact, that the Cowboys decided to release Pool last week and announce that Church, who, in his two previous years in the NFL, started only one game, had indeed won the job.
He carried that momentum over into the Cowboys' first preseason game with the Raiders Monday night and had a strong showing in an otherwise dismal game for both teams.
After looking at quite possibly being third on the depth chart at the start of the preseason, Barry Church has to be one of the most surprising stars of training camp this year.