Dallas Cowboys

Barry Church’s return fires up Cowboys defense

Safety Barry Church (42) has two of the Cowboys’ four interceptions this season.
Safety Barry Church (42) has two of the Cowboys’ four interceptions this season. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Cowboys safety Barry Church returned to practice Sunday and expects to play Thursday. Church missed the past four games with a broken right forearm that required surgery.

“It’s good to get one of our playmakers back in the backend,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “He’s a guy that made a lot of plays for us the past few years. It’s going to be an added spark to us on the backend.”

Church will play with a temporary cast to protect the arm, which he injured against the Eagles on Oct. 30. He has 45 tackles, two interceptions, three defensed passes and a forced fumble.

He has two of the team’s four interceptions, and the Cowboys had no takeaways in the four games he missed.

“An experienced player like that who’s been playing great for us when he went down, it’s great to have him back,” safety Byron Jones said. “The guys who backed him up did great as well. So I think we’re in a good spot definitely in the secondary.”

The Cowboys welcomed Church back with open arms after losing J.J. Wilcox. Wilcox, who replaced Church, left Thursday’s game with a left thigh contusion. He missed practice Sunday.

“I think one of the best things we’ve done as a team is regardless of who’s been playing, those guys have stepped into those roles,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Obviously Barry has been a really good player for us, one of our leaders, one of our captains for the last few years. He’s been a really good playmaker for us. But it gave J.J. Wilcox an opportunity to play more, and he played very well. Byron Jones has played well for us, Jeff Heath when he’s gotten chances, each of those guys have stepped in. Barry has been a starter for us for a reason because he’s a good player and a good leader for us. It’ll be good to have him back, but those other guys did a nice job.”