Church was hurt with 7:31 left in the third quarter as he accelerated toward the offensive line on a running play. He was not hit on the play and looked back at the turf as he got up. Church limped off the field with help from the medical staff and was consoled by teammates as he sat dejectedly on the bench before heading to the locker room.
“When I was on the sidelines, it was a shock: ‘Wow this is what happened,’ ” Church said. “But once I sat down and had a talk with myself and said, ‘I can’t be negative about anything,’ and if I keep being negative, you become a negative person. So you have to keep being positive and see what happens.”
Sensabaugh, who was replaced in the lineup Sunday by Danny McCray, hopes to be able to play next week against Chicago. The Cowboys have a bye on Oct. 7.
The Cowboys could turn to cornerback Brandon Carr as a full-time replacement for Church. He played safety Sunday vs. the Buccaneers in the defense’s nickel package, with Mike Jenkins coming in at cornerback.
“We’ll just have to evaluate it, what the options are and see how they played,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We need to make sure we’re keeping the guys in the right spots because Brandon Carr has been an outstanding corner for us up to this point. We’re excited about what he’s been able to do and his versatility was back for us.”
Rookie Matt Johnson has not practiced in the regular season because of a hamstring injury that also limited him throughout training camp and the preseason. Cornerback Mario Butler, who was cut Saturday, played safety in the preseason and also could be brought back.
Church won the starting job in training camp, which helped lead the team to cut Brodney Pool, a free-agent signing in the offseason. Church made the team in 2010 as an undrafted free agent and moved his way up the chain to a starter in his third season.
“I know it’s tough,” Sensabaugh said. “He finally got his chance to get a starting spot. He’s been doing an awesome job all season. It’s just an unfortunate injury. He just has to make sure he stays in it mentally and get right and make sure he gets a lot of treatment and rehab, and hopefully he’ll come back strong.”