Cowboys notes: Kicker Dan Bailey adding leg strength; Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox signs

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey said he spent a lot of time in the weight room this spring to add leg strength.

“You’re always working on the whole game. Improving the strength, working on the mental side of it — just trying to get better,” he said.

Long field goals are about the only area where Bailey stands to get significantly better. He has made 56 of 59 in two years with the Cowboys on kicks up to 49 yards and five of nine from 50-plus. He missed from 53 at Arizona and 52 at the New York Giants in 2011, and from 51 at Baltimore and 54 at Atlanta last year.

It’s not necessarily all about strength — Bailey has had distance, and he did make three from 50 or longer last year. He also wants to maintain or improve on accuracy and how he approaches potential game-winning situations.

“There’s a lot to learn from past experience, both positive and negative,” he said. “You don’t want to dwell on it. I think you can always look back and say, ‘OK, this situation, how did I respond and what did I do?’ Whether it was good or bad.”

Bailey has made six game-winning kicks, second most in Cowboys history behind Rafael Septien’s seven.

“That kind of comes with the territory,” said Bailey, undrafted out of Oklahoma State two years ago. “You just have to be prepared. It has come up a lot in the past two seasons. If it does come up again, luckily I have a lot of experience there, as does everybody in the operation. We’ll do our best, and I think we’ll have a pretty good outcome.”

Bailey said he lets himself enjoy the pressure moments.

“It’s fun. It’s what you dream about,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle, both good and bad. As a kicker, you live for those moments.”

Enough to pull for a chance to kick a game-winner versus having the offense score?

Bailey smiled.

“I’m just thinking, ‘Let’s win the game.’ So however that works is good for me,” he said.

Wilcox signs

The Cowboys signed rookie safety J.J. Wilcox to a four-year contract Wednesday, leaving two draft picks unsigned.

Wilcox got roughly $2.73 million, including guaranteed money in the ballpark of $586,000, a source said.

The third-round pick from Georgia Southern, who is expected to compete for a starting spot at safety as a rookie, got a deal one day after fellow third-round pick Terrance Williams did the same. They join cornerback B.W. Webb, linebacker DeVonte Holloman and running back Joseph Randle as draft picks under contract.

Still unsigned are first-round pick Travis Frederick and second-round pick Gavin Escobar. Both should be in the fold well before the start of training camp July 19.

Bass getting better

Ben Bass figures he had about the same kind of spring as he did last year.

Which, in both cases, is pretty good.

“Last year, some guys got hurt, and so I went from fourth string to second string,” the second-year Cowboys defensive tackle said. “And I got a chance to show what I can do — show that I can get up the field, run around and make some plays here and there.”

And this year?

“I felt like it was the same thing as last year. I just did it a little better,” he said.

He might be right. Bass was a standout on the defensive line in the shorts-and-helmets practices, taking advantage of a chance to get first-team snaps while Jay Ratliff and others sat out.

Last year, Bass opened eyes enough in the spring that he went from “tryout player” — another term for practice body — in the rookie minicamp to an invitation to organized team activities and then training camp, where he earned a practice-squad spot. He was active for two games in November before an ankle injury put him on injured reserve for the rest of the year.

He said he’s got to remember to prove himself again, although this spring was a good start.

“I try my best not to carry over one practice to another,” he said. “You don’t want to seem cocky. You just want to be confident out there. So I try to take one practice and leave it behind me.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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