Source: Buehler could replace Folk

Updated: December 15, 2009, 10:01 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will solve their kicking situation by staying in-house.

With Nick Folk having missed six of his last 10 field goal attempts, the Cowboys have no plans to bring in another kicker, a source close to the situation said Monday. If the Cowboys do make a change, rookie kickoff specialist David Buehler will take over for Folk.

"We have different options that we're discussing," coach Wade Phillips said Monday when asked whether Buehler could be used for field goals. "We're certainly trying to work with Nick still, because I still think he's a good kicker. At least, he has been. But we also have to look at the realities, too."

In three seasons at Southern Cal, Buehler made 26 of 33 field goal tries. But in his senior season, Buehler missed three of his last four field goals, including three against UCLA, all within 40 yards.

The Cowboys drafted Buehler in the fifth round to improve the kickoff unit. In 2008, the Cowboys, while using Folk, had no touchbacks. This season, the Cowboys have 20.

Buehler has not attempted a field goal in an NFL regular-season game, but he did make a 39-yard attempt at Oakland in the preseason.

There are two veteran kickers available. Jason Elam, who played for coach Wade Phillips in Denver (1993-1994), was recently cut by Atlanta. Former Cowboys kicker Shaun Suisham, who was 18-of-21 this season for Washington, was let go after missing a 23-yarder on Dec. 6.

Recently, the Cowboys turned down a chance to sign kicker Matt Bryant, who wound up replacing Elam in Atlanta.

Folk came into the season having made 62-of-77 field goal attempts. He underwent hip surgery in the offseason and said he didn't start kicking until two weeks before training camp. Folk said he normally starts kicking in April to get ready for the season, but that rehab threw his timing off.

But Folk has continued to struggle, especially in the 40- to 49-yard range, where he's just 4-of-10 and has missed his last four attempts.

The Cowboys changed holders, moving starting quarterback Tony Romo in place of punter Mat McBriar. Folk was concerned about how McBriar spotted the ball and yelled at his friend after a miss against the New York Giants two weeks ago.

On Sunday, with Romo holding the Cowboys bypassed a chance for a 52-yarder on the game's opening drive, opting instead to go for it -- successfully -- on fourth down. After the game, Phillips said the 52-yard kick was out of Folk's range.

Folk's career long is 53 yards. He's also made a 51-yarder.

Folk made a 31-yard field goal without problem in the first quarter, but he missed a 42-yard field goal wide left with 42 seconds left in the first half.

Phillips said he's lost some confidence in Folk.

"Whatever it is, you're not going to make them all. But you need to make a certain percentage," Phillips said. "He's just not hitting that percentage right now. We changed [the] holder. We hoped [the 42-yarder] would go through. He kicked one early, but we certainly needed that one."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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