Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Cowboys seek touchbacks on kickoffs
By Calvin Watkins
IRVING, Texas -- Of all the surprises this season by the Cowboys, after three weeks of the season the team has no touchbacks on kickoffs.
Last season, with then-rookie kicker David Buehler as the kickoff specalist, they led the league with 29.
The Cowboys are one of just two teams with no touchbacks and overall the kickoff unit ranks 24th in the league as the opponents average start position is at the 29-yard line.
"You have to make sure you come to the ball better," special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "We haven't shut them down yet. A lot of it is the returners you're facing."
Against the Redskins, Buehler sent one of his three kicks into the end zone and they were all returned. The next week vs. the Bears, two of the five kicks went into the end zone. Against the Texans, Buehler placed four of his five kicks in the end zone.
This Sunday, the Titans have the fourth-best kickoff return team, with the average starting position at the 31-yard line.
Yet, everybody is returning them.
Teams are not respecting the Cowboys' kickoff coverage, which has plenty of rookies such as Barry Church and Danny McCray.
Sam Hurd, a special teams captain, said it's his responsibility to get the return coverage game going. In previous years, the unit had veteran players such as Keith Davis, Pat Watkins and Jacques Reeves who were good special teamers, and opponents respected that.
With younger players, patience is needed.
After two weeks, Buehler was the leading special teams tackler. Now he's tied with McCray and Jason Williams with four.
"It's not because of young kids; it starts with me," Hurd said. "We just have to be hungry. You got to take into effect they are young. With the other guys you never had to say anything. They knew their job, and I just had to do mine. I have to be a bigger leader, and I will take the blame if there’s anyting to be said."