On the move

When free safety Ken Hamlin was holding out in an effort to convince the Cowboys to change their one-year tender to their new franchise player into a lucrative multi-year deal, one of the possible solutions that was suggested was to move cornerback Anthony Henry to free safety...

The move was considered possible only because the Cowboys will be four-deep at cornerback if Pacman Jones is fully reinstated.

Adding Jones to a cornerback crew that already includes Henry, Terence Newman and first-round draft pick Mike Jenkins gives Dallas a cornerback quartet unmatched anywhere in the NFL.

The Henry-to-safety plan is no longer just a wild suggestion: it has happened.

OK, it has not happened on a full-time basis, but when the Cowboys go to their "dime" (six defensive backs) package in obvious passing situations, Henry will drop back to a safety spot to shore up the deepest part of the Dallas secondary.

The move will benefit the Cowboys' pass defense in numerous ways:

• Sliding Henry over to safety, along with Hamlin and either Patrick Watkins or Roy Williams, allows the Dallas coaches to keep Newman, Jones and Jenkins on the field. If Watkins is on the field, the Cowboys would have their best six pass defenders on the field at the same time.

• The Cowboys finally will have a safety with the size and speed to cover opposing tight ends who have the ability to get downfield and find seams in the defense.

• Having the blanket coverage will benefit the pass rush, as the defensive backs will stay with opposing receivers longer, thereby allowing the linemen and linebackers another second or two to get to the passer.

• He'll be able to bring his powerful hitting — fast — when teams switch to the run, as his bulk and speed make him the best run-defending defensive back on the team outside of Williams.

• Part of the package includes making Henry a surprise pass rusher, as the package includes plays on which he'll line up over the tight end. Sometimes he'll chase the tight end, sometimes he'll pass the tight end off to another defender and blitz — probably untouched — off the edge.

The move will not take place often. Third-and-two won't bring about the Dallas dime package, but if Dallas can force teams into third-and-long, especially if the Cowboys are holding a lead as the clock winds down, the dime package will be employed, and Henry will be part of it.

How this affects the remaining defensive backs remains to be seen. Despite some fans who clamor for the team to rid itself of Williams in light of his struggles against the pass, his salary makes that idea extremely unlikely.

Instead, it is players like free agent Dowayne Davis, the rookie from Syracuse trying to make the team in Oxnard this summer. Davis is actually very much like Williams — solid against the run and shaky against the pass — and if Henry proves versatile enough to handle a number of roles within the secondary, it is players like Davis who might find themselves on the outside looking in.

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