The Dallas Cowboys' already-suspect secondary was spread even thinner Thursday with the suspension of second-year safety Jakar Hamilton.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Hamilton has been banned for four games after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy:
Another blow for Cowboys: Dallas DB Jakar Hamilton is being suspended four games for substances of abuse, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 28, 2014
The NFL later confirmed the suspension via its Twitter account:
Hamilton is the second Cowboys DB to be suspended during the lead-up to the 2014 season as cornerback Orlando Scandrick also violated the league's substance abuse policy, per Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
As pointed out by Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, Hamilton's suspension makes a tough situation even more difficult for America's Team:
Two DBs down. Rough. RT @AdamSchefter Dallas DB Jakar Hamilton is being suspended four games for substances of abuse, per league source.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) August 28, 2014
Following the suspension, the Cowboys also released B.W. Webb, depleting the secondary further:
Cowboys have waived cornerback B.W. Webb and signed running back Phillip Tanner. #CowboysNews— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 28, 2014
Hamilton is listed as the No. 2 free safety on Dallas' depth chart behind Barry Church. He also seemed to be making some headway after playing in three games for the Cowboys last season.
According to Mark Lane of News Corp, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was impressed by Hamilton's continued improvement:
Jason Garrett says Jakar Hamilton is a guy that has made strides in getting better. Has demonstrated maturing as a player.— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) August 26, 2014
Prior to news of the suspension breaking, Hamilton was hampered by a hamstring injury, per CBS Local in Dallas.
The Cowboys' defense has been a major issue for the past several seasons, and losing another defensive back certainly won't help the cause.
Dallas' defense did show some signs of improvement in a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens a couple weeks ago, but safety J.J. Wilcox knows that there is still plenty of work to be done, according to David Moore of The Dallas Morning News.
"We're still missing a few guys, but overall I thought we did pretty good," Wilcox said. "But we still have a long way to go. A long way to go."
Hamilton wasn't expected to be a huge part of the Cowboys' defense by any means, but defensive backs are like gold in the NFL since so many teams employ high-octane passing attacks.
How much will Hamilton's suspension hurt the Cowboys?
Now that the Cowboys will be without Hamilton for the first four games of the 2014 season, it will be interesting to see how that impacts his spot on the roster.
Hamilton was favored to make the team, but it was far from guaranteed. The Cowboys need as many bodies as possible in the secondary, and they could very well decide that they don't want to wait around for Hamilton.
There was a big opportunity staring Hamilton in the face with so much turmoil in the Cowboys' defensive backfield, but unfortunately he is now part of an ever-growing problem in Dallas rather than part of the solution.
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