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Cowboys’ kicking battle tightens with addition of Graham

ARLINGTON — If Shayne Graham can find the rhythm that made him the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, then the Dallas Cowboys might have just found their man.

The team signed the 11-year veteran Graham to a one-year contract after a workout Monday.

They now have four kickers on the roster, including incumbent David Buehler, rookie free agent Dan Bailey and injured rookie Kai Forbath.

Buehler, who was inconsistent in handling the job last season, was in the midst of a tightly contested battle with Bailey in training camp until he suffered a hip strain last week.

He missed the preseason game against San Diego on Sunday and has yet to be cleared for practice.

Bailey has been pretty good for a rookie but he has never kicked in a game, forcing the Cowboys to hedge their bets by signing the veteran Graham.

“We feel good about Shayne and what he has done in this league,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He has been a good kicker for a number of years. He kicked well in the tryout. We want to see him in practice and see how he responds on this team.”

Graham has been with Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, New England and the New York Giants during his career. He has played in 136 games converting 208 of 242 (86 percent) field-goal attempts and 315 of 320 PATs.

Graham became available when Washington released him after missing field goals of 29 and 49 yards in the Redskins’ preseason opener. Now he is in Dallas, thankful for another opportunity and motivated to prove he is still a reliable and accurate as he has always been.

“I know I’m better than the game I had with the Redskins,” Graham said. “The rhythm, the timing wasn’t there. I just think about the things that I need to do right, not so much what I did wrong, what I need to fix, but what I need to do to do things right.

“So that’s what I focused on during my time — kicking well and hitting the ball strong, hitting the ball solid. I’m confident. I know what I can do. I know I’m better than what I showed.”

Buehler is admittedly frustrated with the presence of more competition in camp. He said being back for Saturday’s game against Minnesota is important for him.

Kicking coach Chris Boniol said he likes what Buehler and Bailey have done in practice. But Buehler’s hurt and Bailey is inexperienced.

“Not having that many reps with a young player in games yet, you don’t know what you are going to get,” Boniol said of Bailey. “We want to have our options covered. He is available. He has done a nice job in his career. He had a nice workout.”

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