Forget the Cowboys adding a veteran kicker. It's David Buehler's job to lose.
Connor Hughes, who will attend his third training camp with his third team still looking for his first chance, says he is going to try to make it tough on the coaches. But unless Buehler just stinks it up in the preseason, he will start the season as the Cowboys' kicker. They do not want to burn two roster spots on kickers this season. (Buehler was used only as a kickoff specialist as a rookie.)
Although Dallas had then-reliable Nick Folk as its kicker when it drafted Buehler a year ago, the Cowboys picked him in the fifth round with the thought that eventually he would develop into a field-goal kicker. Folk was cut late last season and replaced by Shaun Suisham, who was not re-signed.
Buehler made 9 of 13 field goals and 65 of 66 extra points in his senior season at USC. As a junior in 2007, he made 16-of-19 field goals and 52-of-54 extra points. He made his only NFL field-goal attempt during the preseason.
"It just makes a lot of sense," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of having Buehler kick field goals. "He does have the college experience, and we felt like he could develop into the top field-goal kicker. By the way, I’m pleased with the work that they’re doing out there right now. Really pleased with what’s transpiring. That was acceptable risk to develop him as opposed to hedging our bet and getting maybe a veteran situation."
Jones pointed out that he's been the veteran route, joking about the $2.5 million signing bonus he gave Mike Vanderjagt as part of a three-year, $5.4 million deal in 2006. Vanderjagt lasted for 11 games before the Cowboys cut him.
"We had a kicker come in here that we paid more money than I’ve ever paid five kickers before," Jones said. "We would have already gone to plan B."
-- Charean Williams