FRISCO - Special-teams coordinator John "Bones'' Fassel is expressing an almost-unbending support for struggling kicker Greg Zuerlein.
But somewhere here inside The Star, there is a little bend.
The Dallas Cowboys are signing another kicker, Lirim Hajrullahu, to the practice squad, a move made in response to Zuerlein's hit-and-miss performance in a Week 1 loss at Tampa Bay.
Playing his first full game since offseason back surgery, Zuerlein did make a potential game-winning 48-yard field goal late against the Bucs. But contributing heavily to the 31-29 loss was the fact he also missed two field-goal attempts (from 31 and 60 yards) and an extra point.
"The first 31-yarder he just mishit it, pulled it left,'' Fassel said. "And then the PAT he hit it pretty good, just pulled it a little bit left. Nothing to attribute to it other than just a miss."
It is Fassel's position that the Cowboys handled properly a training camp conducted virtually without a kicker; it is team owner Jerry Jones' position that maybe that approach deserves to be second-guessed.
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The Cowboys did sign Hajrullahu, a 31-year-old Canadian Football League standout, for the final preseason game, and will now be adding him to the practice squad.
Will the move (likely made in conjunction with defensive backs Darian Thompson and Deante Burton heading to the Practice Squad/Injured list) put heat on Zuerlein? The Cowboys only know Hajrullahu a little bit, whereas Zuerlein has a decade-long history in the NFL that includes Pro Bowl-level play and a close relationship with Fassel.
So let's not call it "heat.'' Let's just call it a "bend.''