Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys safety Jeff Heath gets a kick filling in for kicker Dan Bailey

Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) doubled as the team’s kicker at practice Wednesday, with Dan Bailey nursing a back injury.
Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) doubled as the team’s kicker at practice Wednesday, with Dan Bailey nursing a back injury. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The video is shaky of Jeff Heath’s 49-yard field goal as a senior in high school. But it’s obvious the excitement after the last-play kick gave Lake Orion (Mich.) a 38-36 victory over Stevenson in a state semifinal game in 2008.

Heath, now a safety for the Cowboys, reverted to his soccer roots Wednesday. He doubled as the team’s kicker with Dan Bailey nursing a bad back.

Heath said he went 3-for-6 Wednesday, but the kicks came on the skinny goal posts on the practice field. So he insists the three misses would have sailed through the regular uprights.

“It was kind of fun for the whole team,” Heath said. “Coach [Jason] Garrett was back there chirping me a little bit. All the guys were trying to get me to miss. It was fun.

“On Wednesdays, we kick in the skinny goal posts, so that was tough. On the skinny ones, I definitely made three out of six, but I would argue that the other three would’ve made it on a regular goal post. I was probably 35 yards, 30 yards. …My consistent range I wouldn’t say is any more than 35 yards. … Game-winner, you could push it back a little bit, I think.”

Heath had to choose between soccer and football when he left high school, having scholarship offers for both sports. Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia found out Heath’s rookie year that Heath could kick.

Heath kicked a few for fun two years ago.

On Sunday, Heath got word an hour before Sunday’s game that he might have to kick. Bailey’s back was bothering him.

“They always joked around with it, but obviously Dan has never even missed a practice since I’ve been here, so I never thought it would actually have to happen,” Heath said.

Bailey ended up kicking, though he missed from 47 yards. He made a 22-yarder and three extra points.

Heath, who kicks soccer style, doesn’t have a special kicking shoe, and he’s adjusting to kicking off the ground.

“We had a really good offense [in high school], so I never really had to kick that many field goals,” Heath said. “It was different in high school because you had the little block, so you can lift the ball like an inch or so. So that’s really the hardest thing, I think, about kicking here, you have to kick off the ground.”

Bailey is expected to play Sunday.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram