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March 22, 2011

Buehler's kickoffs no longer that big of a deal

NFL owners voted Tuesday to move kickoffs to the 35-yard line from the 30, theoretically making it easier for touchbacks. Touchbacks still will be spotted at the 20-yard line. (Two-man wedges are still allowed as well.)

David Buehler led the league with 29 touchbacks as a rookie in 2009 when he was a kickoff specialist. He had 22 last season when he had both jobs. Buehler went only 24 of 32 on field goals and missed two PATs last season, which prompted the Cowboys to sign Kris Brown late last season.

That means Buehler likely will need to beat out Brown to keep a job as the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to carry two kickers on their roster. In 12 seasons, Brown, a Southlake Carroll product, has made 77.3 percent of his kicks. He attempted only five last season as a temporary fill-in with the Chargers after being released by the Texans.

"What we want to do with every position on our team is create competition," Garrett told reporters, including the Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill, on Tuesday at the owners meetings in New Orleans. "We believe as a staff that competition brings out the best in people. That's what we try to do. We try to make sure everyone earns their job by performing to the best of their ability. That's what we are trying to do there and throughout our team."

Garrett praised Buehler, saying he has improved after working with kicking coach Chris Boniol last season.

"I think he has gotten so much better," Garrett said. "He is a talented guy. He needs to understand what it takes to play and kick in the NFL. He needs to continue to understand the technique and how he can become a consistent kicker. But if you look at him and how he has done, he has really made progress in that area. ...He has a long way to go, like a number of guys on the team, but he is headed in the right direction."

-- Charean Williams

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