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08/05/2011

The position is often a joke, but this Cowboys position battle is not funny

200px-David_Buehler SAN ANTONIO - Other than punter, there is no position on a football team that is usually more loathed than that of kicker. And there may not be a more fragile guy on this team, that team, or any team.

If the Cowboys can't find a kicker among the three they have in camp they are screwed. Dan Bailey, David Buehler or Kai Forbath better be able to do it. Watching Buehler repeatedly miss kicks last season to inspire zero confidence in his team or his head coach immediately made me think that dumping Nick Folk was a giant mistake. Or was it?

In 2010, Buehler was 24 of 32 for the Cowboys. That's not good. He missed an extra point in the late-season one-point loss in Arizona. That's God awful.

In 2010 with the Jets, Nick Folk was 30 of 39. When the Cowboys cut Folk late in the 2009 season he was still hurt; regardless, he had made just 18-of-28 and was a total liability. I thought IR was better.

Now the Cowboys have to pick from one of the strongest legs in the NFL, Buehler, and pray he can find some accuracy. If they can't rely on him to make the 30 to 39 yarders, he needs to be cut. The NFL's decision to move up kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 means that kickoff specialists, which is what Buehler was as a rookie, are going to be no more. Ordinary kickers are going to be able to reach between the five and the goal line now. Buehler is either accurate, or he's gone. Given his size and strength, though, they can always move him to linebacker. The guy is a truck.

Bailey won the 2010 Lou Groza Award last season at Oklahoma State.
Forbath won the same award while at UCLA in 2009. Right now he's out nursing an injury.

Winning this award does not translate to NFL success. Click here to read about this award's previous winners and you'll see just how few actually made it to the NFL. On this list I see Martin Gramatica, Sebastien Janikowski and Nate Keading as NFLers. Mike Nugent bounced around.

Winning teams have kickers who make these 3-pointers.

"I think they've done well. It's been a good competition to have a couple of guys out there," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today. "David is kicking field goals better and better. The young guy (Bailey) has come out, and been very consistent in his technique."

Red probably has no idea who is going to win this job. But he probably has the idea that he's only going to carry one, and whomever it is better give him the confidence that he can make it.

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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