David Buehler clearly has captured the imagination of people inside the Cowboys organization.
For the second time in the last three seasons, it looks like Buehler will be on the roster as a placekicker who doesn't do a large portion of the job that normally belongs to placekickers. Dan Bailey will handle extra points and most of the field goals while Buehler kicks off and attempts long range field goal tries.
The idea of using a roster spot on a player whose specialty is kicking off has always seemed a little dubious, but it seems especially wasteful this season. With kickoffs now coming from the 35-yard line, the need for extra leg power to create touchbacks has gone down to the point that many people are predicting a sharp downturn in kickoff returns across the league.
Touchbacks were Buehler's biggest reason for sticking around this long in the first place. With the league moving in a direction that skill less valuable, it is hard to make a convincing argument that it is enough to justify a roster spot that could go to a player able to help the team in a variety of ways.
The Cowboys seem to agree with that notion. Jason Garrett said Monday that he's going to look at Buehler as a contributor on kick coverage and return units beyond his role as the guy kicking off.
"He’s a very good athlete and has embraced that role in the past," Garrett said. "We’ll work him into that. He has not done a lot of that up to this point, we’ll see how he acclimates himself to doing that stuff again. We’ll give him the opportunity."
Yes, you will certainly give him the opportunity. If history is any guide, it won't be his last opportunity because an inability to do the majority of the job for which he was chosen hasn't cost him a job through three NFL training camps. He is a good athlete, but there are plenty of those that just got cut who could also be helping the offense or defense in addition to the occasional kickoff.
Hard as it may seem to believe, this isn't really about Buehler. He is what he is, which is a player who wasn't good enough on field goals or extra points last season. Thing is, he's never going to get any better if he stops actually trying them. If he can't do that part of the job and you don't trust him to get better, the fact that he's a good athlete for a kicker doesn't really matter all that much.
The Cowboys have done a laudable job of giving jobs to the people who deserve them this offseason while also cutting ties with players who were getting by on little more than reputation. The presence of two kickers on the roster is a sign that there's still work to be done on that front.
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