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Cowboys Camp: Top 3 Candidates For Position Switches

Cowboys Camp: Top 3 Dallas Candidates For Position Switches Under New Coach Mike McCarthy

FRISCO - Like most other NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys prefer to not issue grand pronouncements on position switches. "Secrecy'' is part of that, and "ego'' is as well. And so it is with a three Dallas moves that are occurring on three levels.

LEVEL 1: The Announcement: Leighton Vander Esch essentially made the announcement himself.

“In today’s age of playing football, MIKE and WILL are pretty much identical,” said Vander Esch as he returns to the field following offseason neck surgery. “I guess if you want to call me the MIKE, you can call me the MIKE and Jaylon obviously is playing the WILL.”

READ MORE: Cowboys Camp: Vander Esch Neck Recovery: 'I Feel Amazing'

LVE to the MIKE also means Jaylon Smith becoming the weak-side guy. Again, the Cowboys view these spots as increasingly interchangeable; McCarthy said "I don't think it's a huge position change,'' adding that the goal is to play "matchup football.''

But Vander Esch in the middle is also about his east-to-west gifts and his ability as a point-of-attack player, especially compared to Smith, who was in the middle last year but who might be better-suited to playing outside - and to rushing the passer.

Some think this is about a switch to the 3-4, but there are no indications of that from the Dallas coaching staff. "Matchup football'' - that's it.

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LEVEL 2: The Passive Admission: McCarthy was asked if Chido Awuzie might be shifting from cornerback to safety, the coach didn't say "no.''

Which - along with his verbal celebration of "flexibility in the secondary'' - sounded like a subtle "yes.''

“I’m very comfortable with the flexibility we have throughout our secondary players,” McCarthy said. “What I like about our numbers in the back end is that we have great competition and excellent flexibility. We may have some players that can not only play corner but can also slide over and play some safety.”

Given that Dallas has an opening for a starting corner (due to the departure of Byron Jones) and no first-team opening at safety (with Xavier Woods slated to be joined by Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, this does not sound like positive news for Awuzie, who also happens to be in the final year of his contract.

Given the size and tackling ability of newcomer veteran Daryl Worley, some have speculated he could make the switch from corner, though before camp he said he'd not been informed of that. But with all due respect to Awuzie and Worley and the rest, moving a corner to safety might mostly be about the trust the organization plans on having in second-round rookie Trevon Diggs, who seems to be penciled in as a potential starter at cornerback.

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LEVEL 3: The Mad Scramble: Who is the center? There are literally five Cowboys - Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, Adam Redmond,  rookie Tyler Biadasz and starting left guard Connor Williams - for whom a case could be made.

If we cross off Redmond as a long-shot, we're still left with the proven Looney, the unproven prospect McGovern and the "Travis Frederick Jr.'' kid from Wisconsin, Biadasz, in competition. But there are people here inside The Star who believe former second-rounder Williams' most natural position is center.

The Cowboys don't have any preseason games to use to figure all of this out, and they don't have much time, either.