Dan Bailey isn’t a “big-leg” guy on kickoffs in coach Jason Garrett’s mind, but he sees improvement from the second-year player.
Bailey’s kickoff placement and depth will be important Monday night against the Chicago Bears and their top-flight returner, Devin Hester.
“You wouldn’t regard him as a big-leg kickoff guy, but if you watch his kickoffs, the direction and also the depth of his kickoffs, they’ve been pretty darn good, and I think they’ve gotten better since he’s gotten here,” Garrett said. “It’s a real tribute to him and how hard he’s worked and obviously Chris Boniol and Joe D how much they’ve worked with him. He’s certainly improved and been almost an asset for us.”
Bailey has produced four touchbacks on 11 kickoffs this year.
Garrett said Bailey’s mental toughness impresses him.
“We saw that right from the start,” Garrett said. “Nothing seemed to bother him. To your point, he’s had a few different holders, but in different circumstances in terms of his mechanics and the operation, he just says put it down and I’ll kick it through. I think that goes a long way in telling you what kind of kicker he is. He is very good technically. He is very consistent in his stroke, but he’s also very strong mentally.”
Bailey made the team in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State, where he won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker.
“There are guys who can just say, ‘OK, I’m going to do my job regardless of the circumstance,’ ” Garrett said. “Whatever their position is, they’re usually the guys who function best. He’s shown and demonstrated that over the last couple of years to be able to do that.”
-- Carlos Mendez