The Dallas Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino amid Brett Maher’s struggles, but the veteran did not appear to make a great 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 January 19, 2023 practice.
“Cowboys kicker Brett Maher was locked in today during period of practice open to reporters,” Gehlken tweeted on January 19. “Kicking outdoors and in approximate 20 mph wind, Maher was 6-for-6. Newly signed Tristan Vizcaino unofficially missed two of five tries, one wide left and the other wide right.”
The good news is that Maher thrived during this same portion of practice going a perfect six-for-six amid gusty winds. Despite signing Vizcaino to the team’s practice squad, the Cowboys did not elevate him making Maher the only kicker who will be on the active roster against the 49ers.
Vizcaino had short stints with the Cardinals and Patriots this season. The veteran last attempted a field goal on November 13 hitting both of his tries, including a 46-yard kick. Vizcaino was also a perfect three-for-three in his extra-point attempts.
Maher Will Start vs. 49ers as Vizcaino Was Not Activated
Prior to Vizcaino not being moved to the active roster, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that Maher would be the team’s starting kicker against the 49ers. There is a reason for the Cowboys to be optimistic that Maher will bounce back as the kicker hit a career-high 90.6% of his field goals during the regular season. Maher also made 94.3% of his extra-point attempts for Dallas prior to missing four straight kicks against the Bucs.
“Yeah definitely [seen enough from Maher during practice], Brett has the ball,” McCarthy remarked during a January 20 press conference when asked about Maher’s status versus the Niners. “We’re ready to go. So yeah, we’re getting ready here and today is a normal Friday. So, we’re on a normal schedule here down the stretch. We’ll have our mock game here at 11: 30. Yeah, we’re rocking and rolling.”
The Cowboys Never Planned to Have 2 Kickers on the Active Roster
Vizcaino may have been signed as insurance in case the Cowboys are able to advance to the NFC Championship. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that McCarthy was never planning to activate two kickers against San Francisco.
“PK Tristian Vizcaino was not elevated so Brett Maher is the only Cowboys kicker,” Werder detailed on Twitter. “He’s missed 5 of last 6 PAT. Mike McCarthy never considered having two kickers available. Too many other hard roster decisions vs 49ers.”
Fassel Believes Maher Was Dealing With the Yips
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys handle special teams decisions if Maher once again struggles against the 49ers. We could see Dallas go for two-point conversions, but there is no simple solution for field goal decisions, aside from going for it on fourth down. Special teams coordinator John Fassel admitted that Maher likely had the yips which will not make 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 stated during a January 17 press conference. “And he had a hot hand, let’s face it, only missed four kicks all season: a P.A.T. [extra point], a 49-yarder and two 57-yarders. And then, the Yips happened, so I’d expect a hot hand coming up.
“And then Levi’s Stadium, in my experience there, is not an easy place to kick. There’s grass, there’s probably some conditions and there’s definitely [a] wind factor. So, let’s go. What else would we want?”