FRISCO http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-thomas-rawls-jersey , Texas (AP) — Second-guessers will be ready to pounce when Brett Maher takes the field for the Cowboys to attempt the first regular-season kick of his NFL career.
If he misses, the refrain from Dallas fans figures to be something along the lines of, “Dan Bailey woulda made it.”
The Cowboys factored that into their surprising decision to release the second-most accurate kicker in league history because of Bailey’s struggles after an injury last season and the relatively large salary for his position.
They replaced him with a 28-year-old training camp journeyman with four years of CFL experience in Maher, who wasn’t in the locker room when it was open to reporters Tuesday.
“We recognize he has not made a kick in the National Football League,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We understand what Dan Bailey has done in the National Football League, so that makes the decision that much more difficult. We talked about it, went back and forth on it, we challenged each other on it.”
The club’s career leader with 186 field goals, Bailey has made 88.2 percent of his attempts in seven seasons, second to Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (90.2).
Bailey was the most accurate in NFL history among kickers with at least 100 attempts when he injured his right groin at San Francisco last season and missed four games. Bailey was 8 of 13 after coming back and finished at a career-low 75 percent.
The enduring image for Garrett was Bailey shanking a 23-yard attempt in the final seconds of a meaningless finale at Philadelphia after the Cowboys put the ball in the middle of the field trying to take a 9-0 lead in the eventual 6-0 win.
While Bailey had a couple of troublesome days in camp, the 30-year-old was solid overall. And Maher’s camp impressed the coaches, capped by a 57-yard field goal in the preseason finale at Houston.
“I think we got real comfortable with Maher and the way he was kicking and the offseason he had,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on his radio show Tuesday. “We really felt that we could get the same strategy, same impact that a kicker like Bailey gives us.”
The Cowboys are saving $3.4 million under the salary cap by cutting Bailey. Maher will make just $480,000. The financial component was less about the present and more about the future of having to pay the likes of quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, if Dallas gets to that day with those cornerstones.
“You never have enough of it,” Jones said of clearing cap space. “You can take a look at our roster as young as it is, but still we have some pretty hefty situations coming up regarding cap. Anybody planning ahead and you have to, you’ve already got a spot for that room.”
Garrett loses a kicker he trusts Youth Dustin Byfuglien Jersey , with questions about the coach’s future likely to follow if the Cowboys miss the playoffs again. They’ve reached the postseason twice in his seven full seasons, with one playoff win.
“We’re on board with all the decisions,” Garrett said. “We make organizational decisions. We talk about it every day, talk about how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and all the different factors that go into the decisions and we work through it.”
This decision will be easy to measure.
NOTES: DB Treston Decoud and G Cody Wichmann were added to the practice squad, and DE Charles Tapper was released from the practice squad.
Tony Sparano Jr. directed drill after drill Tuesday, clapping his hands and offering positive feedback to players.
He smiled. He laughed. He joked with Jacksonville's offensive linemen during breaks.
His emotions might be totally different the rest of the week.
The son of longtime NFL coach Tony Sparano will return to Minnesota a little more than three weeks after his father's death and step onto the same practice fields his dad roamed the last three years. It won't be easy for the younger Sparano, an assistant offensive line coach with Jacksonville.
"He's going through a tough time," said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone, whose team will hold two joint practices with the Vikings before a preseason game Saturday. "It is a tough, tough time. It is not just him, individually. It's his family, his mom, and there is a lot going on. ... We will do whatever we have to do to make sure we are doing the right thing for his family."
Marrone offered to let Sparano stay behind in Jacksonville, realizing how difficult the trip might be for him. But Sparano declined and opted to head north with his football family.
"You don't want to look back after things occur and have any type of regrets," Marrone said. "I think living life like that in anything that you do is very difficult. I just want to make sure everything is covered, and whatever support he needs from me, I am there for him."
The elder Sparano was set to begin another season as Vikings offensive line coach when he died unexpectedly July 22, just a few days before the start of training camp. He died of natural causes from arteriosclerotic heart disease, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said the following day.
Sparano, 56 James Hurst Jersey , collapsed in the kitchen of his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, while he was getting ready to leave for church with his wife, Jeanette.
A former head coach with Miami and Oakland, Sparano is survived by his wife; his two sons, Tony and Andrew; his daughter, Ryan Leigh; and four grandchildren.
Sparano Jr., 31, missed the first week of Jaguars camp to be with his family. Sparano has declined interview requests since his return and wasn't expected to talk publicly in Minnesota.
The joint practices surely would have been special for the Sparano family. Father and son coached together in 2011 at Miami (Senior was the head coach; Junior was an offensive quality control coach) and in 2012 with the New York Jets (Senior was the offensive coordinator; Junior was an intern).
"It's just a very, very difficult situation," Marrone said. "I have been talking to him about everything. I am just trying to be the best person that I can be for him like the rest of the guys on the staff. I think it will be a very emotional time.
"I think his words, if you talk to him, would probably be better than me trying to say what he feels. But for me, myself, the staff, everybody, the organization, the players, we are obviously all there to support him."