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Bailey's Consistency Impressive Throughout Cowboys' Camp


OXNARD, Calif. – The guys that film Cowboys practice have got to be tired of Dan Bailey by now.

For roughly a month, team staffers armed with cameras have skied up into the air behind the goalposts on the Cowboys' practice fields to tape the goings on of training camp.

Through that timespan, Bailey, booting his way through a strong training camp, has peppered the film crew. Whether from 30 yards, 40 yards or 50 yards, the third-year kicker has consistently nailed his opportunities, smacking ball after ball into the film stands.

"You could make a compelling argument that he does his job as well as anybody does theirs on this team. He's an outstanding football player and he's won a number of games for us at the end of games," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He's about as reliable a guy as I have been around kicking the football."

That's why it stood out so clearly Sunday afternoon, when Bailey clanged off the left upright from 52 yards away. It was a rare miss during a month of impressive production from Bailey, and even still, it came from beyond Bailey's career long.

"I wasn't too happy about that, I thought I played it perfectly," Bailey said. "It's been significantly windy out here every day – same wind every day. I thought it was going to come back in, but it just stayed out there."

That just speaks to the kicker's expectations of himself. Bailey is hitting 90 percent of his field goals through two seasons in the league, but he is just five-of-nine from 50 or longer. His career long sits at 51 yards.

"You kick 30 field goals, you get five (attempts) over 50 – I think it kind of get blows out of proportion," Bailey said. "That being said, definitely, every kick you want to make. The more you practice, the more experience you're going to have to go back on if that comes up in a game situation."

It seems like a slight nitpick to this point, as consistency has been Bailey's calling card to this point in his career. After missing the second field goal of his career against San Francisco, Bailey tore off 19 straight makes as a rookie. He built on that by nailing 29 of 31 kicks in 2012 – a success rate of 93 percent.

That reliability has raised the question of whether Bailey is entering the top tier of kickers in the NFL, though it's not a question the Oklahoma native is willing to answer.

"I feel like I'm confident in myself, but I don't really compare myself to anybody else," he said. "Everybody's different – some guys have been doing it 10 years, some guys have been doing it two years. I think experience has a lot to do with deciding who's the best out there."

The Cowboys have plenty of faith in him, at least. The past few days have brought roster moves, made for Bailey's benefit, not for the sake of competition. Following the release of rookie punter Spencer Benton, Bailey and punter Chris Jones handled kicking duties by themselves for a week.

That strategy was seemingly called into question when Bailey was drilled during the blocked field goal last Friday against Oakland. Enter rookie kicker Brett Maher, who was signed by the New York Jets following the draft in April.

Maher hit six-of-six kicks during the Cowboys' second practice of the week on Monday. But the rookie's presence hardly seems like competition for Bailey – rather, it's more like well-deserved rest.

"You don't want your kicker to be, kind of, kicking to help your team function, and wear his leg out during training camp," Garrett said. "He's a strong kid, he's very athletic – that's never been a concern with him. But you need to be able to function and having another leg -- both for your punter and your place kicker -- can really help."


That should free Bailey up to work on the other nuances of his game. He has worked extensively on kickoffs and onside kick with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia on top of his barrage of field goals.

Bailey said the high volume of training camp reps is invaluable preparation for the sporadic nature of kicking in-season.

"The main goal of camp is one: to get better and two: put more good days together than bad days," he said. "I think that's important for any position, especially ours – sometimes you get two attempts a game. So the more you can string those good days together, it helps build your confidence and in turn sets you up for the next game, the next week, the next season."

With so much importance placed on "good days," it raises an interesting question: will Bailey ever have a bad one?

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