2010 NFL Question Marks: Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25:  (L-R) Alan Ball #20 and Patrick Crayton #84 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Cowboys and their potential issues at free safety.

After the combination of Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham went 20 of 31 in field goal attempts last year, arguably the biggest weakness for the Cowboys this season is kicker.

But who wants to discuss kickers?

The second most glaring issue for the Cowboys heading into the season is at safety. After re-signing restricted free agent Gerald Sensabaugh to a one-year contract in May, the Cowboys have their strong safety spot filled, but questions still remain at free safety.

The ‘Boys were expected to add more competition to the mix at free safety this offseason but never did. Now Alan Ball is slated to start at the spot, despite the fact that he’s a liability in run defense. After making three spot starts at the position last year, the converted corner failed to impress.

Second year man Michael Hamlin has an advantage over Ball in both size and overall ball skills, but his speed and experience are lacking. He also missed most of last season with a fractured wrist, further cutting into his opportunities to earn a starting spot.

The long shot in this position battle is rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, whom the Cowboys selected with the No. 126 overall pick in April’s draft. The small-school product is an intriguing candidate to eventually beat out Ball for the starting gig because he’s a tremendous athlete, blessed with terrific speed and playmaking ability.

The problem is that he’s coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum and has fallen too far behind Ball this summer. Therefore, he’s not even in the mix to start in Week 1 and will have to prove himself as a kick returner before getting a serious look at free safety.

Unless the ‘Boys found a gem in Owusu-Ansah and he can make an impact right away, expect teams to consistently attack the free safety position this year.

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