FRISCO, Texas – Mike Nugent knows the drill.
In 13 seasons kicking for six NFL teams, he's learned how to stay ready for an opportunity like the one he has in Dallas.
With Dan Bailey sidelined by a groin injury for at least this week, the Cowboys signed the 35-year-old Nugent following a workout Tuesday to handle kicking duties while the league's all-time leader in field goal percentage (89.9) recovers.
Ultimately, the operation comes down to three things: snap, hold kick. Nugent's new teammates – long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and holder Chris Jones – have worked together for years. And he can lean on "the best in the business" – Bailey – for advice.
"The way I'm looking at it," Nugent said, "is not only do I get to work with the best in the business, specifically, obviously being Dan – not only do I get to work with him, bounce ideas off of him – but just the fact that you're on a team that you can tell by one practice today the commitment that's going on here and the work that's put in. That's really exciting."
Coming off a 40-10 win over San Francisco, the Cowboys (3-3) are looking to maintain momentum this Sunday at Washington. The offense has averaged 33.7 points over the last three games.
Bailey, as always, has been its security blanket inside opposing territory.
He is perfect on place kicks this season: 7-for-7 on field goals, 16-for-16 on PATs. When he injured his groin warming up in the second quarter at San Francisco, the Cowboys had to turn to starting safety Jeff Heath – a former high school kicker with a soccer background.
Enter Nugent, a 13th-year veteran who has a career 80.8-percent field goal percentage with the Jets, Bucs, Cardinals and Bengals. Cincinnati released him last December after a series of extra point misses.
This past summer, Nugent lost a preseason competition for the Giants' kicking job. But he has experience working with Cowboys special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia – he kicked for Bisaccia with Tampa Bay in 2009.
"I think the biggest thing is getting comfortable with Mike as the week goes on and just see where he is," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We felt good about the workout (Tuesday). We feel good about what he's done in the league up to this point. We'll see where he is and we'll develop a strategy, on kickoffs, on field goals, on everything we do in the kicking game."
Nugent says the Cowboys' stability with their kicking operation is already helping his adjustment.
"When you have guys who are as good as these two (Ladouceur and Jones), you hit two kicks and that part's taken care of," Nugent said. "I just have to do my job. They definitely make it easier on a kicker."