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August 23, 2011

K Shayne Graham could be the reliable veteran the Cowboys have been looking for

By Clarence E. Hill Jr

Arlington _ If Shayne Graham can find the rhythm that made him the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, then Cowboys may have just found their man.

The team signed the 11-year veteran Graham to a one-year contract after a workout Monday.

They now have four kickers on the roster, including incumbent David Buehler, rookie free agent Dan Bailey and injured rookie Kai Forbath.

Buehler, who was inconsistent in handling the job last season, was in the midst of tightly contested battle with Bailey in training camp until he suffered a hip strain last week. He missed the Chargers preseason game on Sunday and has yet to be cleared for practice.

Bailey has been pretty good for a rookie but he has never kicked in a game, forcing the Cowboys to hedge their bets by signing the veteran Graham. 

"We feel good about Shayne and what he has a done in this league," Coach Jason Garrett said. "He has been a good kicker for a number of years. He kicked well in the tryout. We want to see him in practice and see how he responds on this team."

Graham has been with the Bills, Panthers, Bengals, Patriots and Giants during his career.

He has played in 136 games converting 208-of-242 (86.0%) of his field goals and 35-of-37 PATs. 

The reason is he is available is because of a bad turn with the Redskins in training camp. He missed two field goals of 29 and 49 yards in the preseason opener and was released. 

He is Dallas, thankful for another opportunity and motivated to prove he is still a reliable and accurate as he has always been.

“I know I’m better than the game I had with the Redskins,” said Graham, who was released by the Redskins after missing from 29 and 49 yards.

 “The rhythm, the timing wasn’t there. I just think about the things that I need to do right, not so much what I did wrong, what I need to fix, but what I need to do to do things right. So that’s what I focused on during my time – kicking well and hitting the ball strong, hitting the ball solid. I’m confident. I know what I can do. I know I'm better than what I showed."

Kicking coach Chris Boniol said he likes what Buehler and Bailey have done in practice. But Buehler's hurt and Bailey is inexperienced. It was simply a matter of covering their options.

"Not having that many reps with young player in games yet, you don't know what you are going to get," Boniol said of Bailey. "We want to have our options covered. He is available. He has done a nice job in his career. He had a nice workout."




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