Rookies to watch during Cowboys training camp
If there is one benefit to the Dallas Cowboys’ offense running into a wall inside the 10-yard line is that it gave them a chance for an extended look at the little kicker who can’t kick straight.
Thus far in training camp, no player has caused more concerns than place kicker Brett Maher.
No one gives a rip about the kicker until he misses a kick or two... or three. Then it’s time to put him in an Uber with a one way ticket to Getlostville.
Signed as the kicker to replace Pro Bowler Dan Bailey before the start of the 2018 regular season, Maher enjoyed a decent year; he was 29 of 36. His training camp as the incumbent kicker, however, has been erratic at best.
In the Cowboys first preseason game on Saturday night, with the offense continually stalling, Maher had the chance to change minds, both young and old alike.
Not sure that happened.
He was good from 25 yards in the first quarter. He was good from 40 yards later in the same period. In the second quarter, just when he was feeling good about himself, Maher missed from 35 yards.
But he was good 31 yards on the final play of the first half.
“We were obviously disappointed in the third kick (missed field goal). The other ones seemed to be pretty good,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said at half time on Saturday night. “So we’ll keep evaluating him. We’ll keep giving him shots, but he’s been a good kicker for us.”
With an offense that ranked 26th in the NFL in red zone scoring offense in 2018, the Cowboys are not exactly in the position to go with a guy they don’t completely trust.
“You’d like for him to hit ‘em all but we’re glad he got the ones he got,” Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said after the game. “I think we’re kinda looking at just continue ... to evaluate. In his case, we’ll evaluate last year and this year just at the same time; don’t have any different opinion about him after the game than before the game. He’s got a strong leg. He’s made some, and of course he’s missed some.”
The Cowboys trusted Dan Bailey right up to the moment they cut him and went with Maher.
Maher may be the incumbent, but he doesn’t have a lot of trust built up with Garrett or this team. Maher simply has little room for error. He missed too many easy kicks in 2018, including four from between 40 and 49 yards.
So while Maher remains with the Cowboys, Dallas should have one eye checking the waiver wire.
COWBOYS LINEBACKER SUFFERS “SIGNIFICANT” INJURY
Luke Gifford’s chances of making the Cowboys’ roster are not great, but in his first preseason game the undrafted rookie free agent linebacker was making an impression.
In the first half on Saturday night, Gifford was credited with two tackles, one pass defended and an interception. Gifford made the interception in the second quarter on a pass from 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens.
With four minutes remaining in the first half, however, Gifford was trying to make a tackle but suffered a nasty-looking high left ankle sprain. He had to be taken to the locker room and he did not return.
The rookie from Nebraska has thus far enjoyed a strong training camp, especially on special teams.
Jerry Jones said the injury was “pretty significant.”