It is uncommon that an NFL team would come into the season with an issue at kicker, but the Dallas Cowboys can hardly be called the typical NFL franchise. This is “America’s Team” with an overbearing owner in a state where football is a religion that inspires fanaticism that goes beyond the Sunday morning tailgate.
Monday the Cowboys added Shayne Graham to an obscenely deep kicking queue that already included returning kicker David Buehler, rookie free agent Dan Bailey, and injured rookie Kai Forbath. In fact, Buehler is dealing with his own aches and pains (a hip strain).
Graham had been on the Washington Redskins roster until just after missing two field goals in the first preseason game. Fans with Dallas Cowboys tickets for the 2011 season may have already been concerned with heading into a season with a kicker who only made 75 percent of his kicks last season and struggled from 30-39 yards out, so adding a rejected kicker to the competition is not likely going to quell any of those concerns. However, previous to his disastrous post-lockout showing, the 33-year-old Shayne Graham has hit 86 percent of his kicks and 98.4 percent of his extra points.
Buehler is reportedly unhappy with the addition of even more competition, especially since Bailey has been competitive to this point and the new kick off rules may make his “kick-off specialist” title less enticing when time comes for the final cuts.
The Dallas Cowboys simply do not need to be worried about a game coming down to being forced to decide whether it is better to go for it on fourth and short inside the final two minutes from the 22 when a consistent kicker makes the decision for the head coach. This is especially true given quarterback Tony Romo’s history as a gunslinger.