Sunday, January 22, 2023

Cowboys get bad news about signings ahead of Clash vs. 49ers

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The Dallas Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino amid Brett Maher’s struggles, but the veteran didn’t seem to make a good first impression. Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reported that Vizcaino missed two of his five field goal attempts during the media portion of the team’s practice on January 19, 2023.

“Cowboys kicker Brett Maher was detained during reporter-accessible practice time today,” Gehlken tweeted Jan. 19. Newly signed Tristan Vizcaino has unofficially missed two attempts out of five, one wide left and the other wide right.”

The good news is that Maher ran a perfect six-on-six in this part of the gusty-wind session. Although Vizcaino was placed on the team’s practice squad, the Cowboys didn’t raise him, making Maher the only kicker who will be on the active roster against the 49ers.

Vizcaino had brief stints with the Cardinals and Patriots this season. The veteran last attempted a field goal on Nov. 13 and hit both attempts, including a 46-yard kick. Vizcaino was a perfect three-on-three on his extra point attempts as well.

Before Vizcaino was moved to the active roster, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy announced that Maher would be the team’s starting kicker against the 49ers. There’s reason for the Cowboys to be optimistic that Maher will bounce back, given the kicker’s career-high 90.6% of his field goals during the regular season. Maher also made 94.3% of his extra point attempts for Dallas before missing four straight kicks against the Bucs.

“Yes, in any case [seen enough from Maher during practice]’Brett has the ball,’ McCarthy remarked during a Jan. 20 press conference when asked about Maher’s status with the Niners. “We are ready to go. So yes, we are preparing here and today is a normal Friday. So we have a normal schedule here. We have our mock game here at 11:30. Yes, we rock and roll.”

Vizcaino may have been signed as insurance should the Cowboys be able to advance to the NFC Championship. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that McCarthy never intended to activate two kickers against San Francisco.

“PK Tristian Vizcaino wasn’t lifted, so Brett Maher is the only Cowboys kicker,” Werder said on Twitter. “He missed 5 of the last 6 PAT. Mike McCarthy never considered having two kickers available. Too many other hard roster decisions against 49ers.”

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys deal with special team decisions when Maher fights the 49ers again. We could see Dallas going for two-point conversions, but there’s no easy fix for field goal decisions other than going fourth. Special teams coordinator John Fassel admitted Maher likely had the whining, which won’t leave Cowboys fans confident when the specialist attempts his first kick in San Francisco.

“I don’t know what it is, but I believe in the yips and I believe in the hot hand,” Fassel said during a Jan. 17 press conference. “And he had a hot hand, let’s be honest, just missing four kicks all season: a PAT [extra point], a 49-yarder and two 57-yarders. And then the Yips happened, so I would expect a hot hand to come up.

“And then, in my experience, Levi’s Stadium isn’t an easy place to play football. There’s grass, there’s probably some conditions, and there definitely is [a] wind factor. So let’s go. What else would we want?”

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