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Dissecting Nick Folk's Struggles

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    IRVING - AUGUST 28: Kicker Nick Folk #6 of the Dallas Cowboys kicks a field goal during a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 28, 2008 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys won 16-10. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

    For two years after coming into San Antonio and taking the job of Cowboys' place-kicker from incumbent veteran Martin Grammatica, Nick Folk was as close to automatic as one could reasonably hope for; in his first season with Dallas, as a rookie out of Arizona State in 2007, Folk hit on 26 of 31 attempts, earning a trip (along with a record 12 other Cowboys) to the Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

    2008 saw Folk post the third-highest field goal percentage in the history of the franchise, hitting 20 of 22 attempts.

    Folk missed just seven times over his first two seasons in the league, an impressive mark to be sure; not so impressive has been Folk's start to 2009. He's missed six out of 21 attempts through 11 games this season, just one miss away from his career mark entering the year.

    Against Oakland last Thursday, Folk was 1 of 2, missing on a 49-yard try.

    Interesting is that Folk's struggles seems to be confined to a ten-yard stretch of field. Five of his six misses have been attempts of between 40-49 yards; he is 10 of 11 on attempts shorter than 40-49 yards and 1 of 1 from beyond.

    Dealing with a new holder in punter Mat McBriar--who has taken blame for at least two of Folk's misses--and coming off off-season hip surgery, Folk said recently that his uncharacteristically inaccurate stretch is not the product of health or confidence issues.

    "There's a lot that goes into my off-season that people don't see necessarily and work on," Folk said after going 0-2 at Green Bay. "I don't want to put any blame on anyone else. That was a tough deal. I just have to get it right from here on out and make a playoff run."