IRVING (AP) — While having a rookie kicker isn't a novel concept for coach Wade Phillips, that seems like a risky move for the Dallas Cowboys — a team with big expectations and a spotlight game right away.
Consider that Nick Folk’s first NFL kick is likely to come Sunday night against the NFC East rival New York Giants in a nationally televised game.
And what if the final outcome comes down to a kick by Folk? Say the Cowboys in their more aggressive 3-4 defense make a big stop, then Tony Romo throws a pass to Terrell Owens to set up a game-winning field goal attempt.
Phillips insists having a rookie kicker won’t change how he approaches things.
“We have confidence in him,” Phillips said. “Strategy wise, he’s our kicker, he has this range and this is how you’ll utilize him — like you would any other kicker, whether he was a rookie or not.”
Sounds good, but Phillips also remembers what happened to San Diego in 2004, when rookie kicker Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal in overtime of the AFC wild-card game and the underdog New York Jets then drove for a game-winning kick.
Phillips, then the Chargers defensive coordinator, said he took a lesson from that, whether dealing with a rookie or veteran kicker.
“Yeah, try to make a first down,” he said. “We just knelt on the ball and kicked a 40-something yard field goal from the side.”
The Cowboys hadn’t drafted a kicker under Jerry Jones’ 18-year ownership until Folk, the All-Pac 10 kicker from Arizona, was chosen in the sixth round in April. Folk didn’t become a sure choice for the 53-man roster until Martin Gramatica, given a two-year contract in the offseason, strained a hamstring in the preseason and was put on the injured list.
Folk is the sixth kicker Dallas will use since the start of the 2005 season. Gramatica kicked in the last five games and the playoffs last season after Mike Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, was released 10 games into a three-year contract.
Still, the 22-year-old Folk doesn’t sound overwhelmed by his situation.
“It’s the same deal — snap, hold, kick, uprights. Just go out there and do what I’ve been doing, kicking well and keep it up,” Folk said.
Folk was 6-for-6 on extra points and made his three field goals, including a 52-yarder, in the preseason. Like everyone else, he wants to get the first regular-season kick out of the way — whether it’s an extra point, a short field goal or a long one.
“I just want to get it over with, whatever it may be,” Folk said. “That first kick is going to be the big one. Then after that, everyone will be kind of relaxed. That first one is probably going to be the toughest one.”
IN OR OUT?: A day after going through his first full practice since arthroscopic surgery Aug. 1 on his right knee, receiver Terry Glenn didn’t practice Thursday.
Coach Wade Phillips said Glenn, the 33-year-old receiver going into his 12th season, was held out because he had some swelling in his knee. The coach said he was “not less or more optimistic” about Glenn playing in the opener.
Starting cornerback Terence Newman (partial tissue tear in base of his foot) also missed practice again Thursday, but hasn’t been ruled out of playing against the Giants.