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What's Up at ST? Familiar faces in kicking game 


FRISCO, Texas — For the first time in franchise history, the Cowboys saw their kicker and punter make the Pro Bowl in the same season.

Add that to a near-perfect deep snapper and always-dangerous return specialist who made All-Pro the year before, the Cowboys were quite efficient on special teams last season.

And to think, all of them are returning once again in 2024, along with their coach John Fassel.

So one would assume the Cowboys are going to be in good shape yet again on special teams. If that's not enough, veteran special teams player C.J. Goodwin is back after missing of last season with an arm injury. He's the only player in Cowboys history to lead the team in special teams tackles three years in a row (2019-21).

The pieces are back in place yet again, but there are some big rule changes on special teams that has the entire league wondering "What's Up" with the kicking game.

What We Know: The Cowboys enter training camp without any 1-on-1 competition at any of the three operation spots – kicker, punter and deep snapper. Brandon Aubrey is coming off an record-breaking season in which he set the NFL mark for the most consecutive field goals made to begin a career with 35. He also set an NFL single-season record for touchbacks with 99. Meanwhile, punter Bryan Anger earned his second Pro Bowl selection and also set Cowboys single-season records with a 51.4 gross punting average and a 44.9 net average. Deep snapper Trent Sieg had no issues in his first season with the Cowboys last year. The three of them will be back working together once again and should make for even better execution again.

What We Don't: No one really knows how the new kickoff rule is going to affect the kicking game. Sure, we think it's going to be a more wide-open play and we'll see a few more returns than usual. But there is much more strategy involved now. Teams will have the choice to either kick the ball out of the end zone or take their chances to cover the kick. Either way, it's going to be an exciting play and one that Cowboys returner KaVontae Turpin should be a big factor for the team this upcoming season.

What to Watch For: Speaking of strategy, the Cowboys have one of the more veteran special teams coaches in John Fassel, who has a history of coming up with unique schemes and plays. This new kickoff rule is right up his alley. But what we don't know is what type of player he's going to rely on the most with both the kickoff return and coverage team. What we think is a normal amount of linebackers, tight ends, running backs and DBs could be vastly different now, depending on what the need is on special teams. So let's keep a close eye on the types of player Fassel is using on the kick teams and that might determine the overall 53-man roster makeup.

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