FRISCO, Texas – Usually, teams will carry at least two kickers throughout training camp and the preseason, albeit for competition purposes or to at least give their projected starter some relief in practices and games.
Even with two, it's not always easy to get both enough kicks to make a decision.
So you can imagine what it was like in the 2011 preseason when the Cowboys actually had five – yes, FIVE – kickers on the roster at one time.
One of those was Kai Forbath, a rookie from UCLA who was dealing with a quad injury and wasn't able to compete in practice. Yet, the Cowboys saw enough potential that they wanted to hold on to him, in case one of the other four didn't work out.
One of those four guys turned out to be Dan Bailey, the only other rookie in the group. Bailey outperformed the likes of veterans Shane Graham, who eventually played 15 seasons, and Dave Rayner (six years in the NFL), along with David Buehler, who was drafted two years earlier by the Cowboys as more of a kickoff specialist, although he did handle the full-time place-kicking duties in 2010.
Bailey won the job, mainly because of what he did in practices. There were only so many field goal attempts to go around in the preseason so when the group of kickers got their chance to kick in practices, even off to the side with only a couple of coaches watching, those became the kicks that would make the difference in the final decision.
Even though Forbath wasn't healthy enough to participate, he learned that part of the business early on.
"Yeah, that's what I learned from college to the NFL," Forbath said. "You have to take every single day serious and treat it like a game and try to get better every day. When you get complacent and take practice for granted, that's when things go bad."
When Bailey was named the Cowboys' kicker, the team cut Buehler, Rayner and Graham but Forbath stuck around on an injured list. He eventually got healthy midway through the year, but as he recalls, "Dan was having an amazing year."
Forbath eventually became a free agent and went on to play for five other teams over the next eight seasons, including this year where he kicked for the Patriots in just one game.
That's why when he got the call to work out for the Cowboys earlier this week, Forbath said those kicks were just as intense as the games.
"It might be more (pressure) actually," Forbath said. "There's very important people watching you kicking each kick. I told my agent I got through the hard part and now let's go make some kicks."
That's certainly why the Cowboys brought him here to replace Brett Maher, who was cut on Monday. Forbath will be the team's kicker Sunday against the Rams as they try to end a three-game losing skid and remain in first place in the NFC East.