Lost among the injury news of Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and the return from injury for players like Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, is the sidelining of Cowboys placekicker Greg Zuerlein. Greg the Leg has been absent since the start of training camp and in his place punter Hunter Niswander has handled the placekicking duties.
Cowboys fans were slapped in the face with the reality of Zuelrein’s injury when Niswander was less than perfect in kicking three field goals during the Hall of Fame game. His first one just barely cleared the bar in ugly fashion even though it was a short kick, then he had one blocked and another one sliced so badly that it almost went out of view of the television screen. We really shouldn’t blame Niswander too much as the Cowboys have basically avoided field goals so far in training camp.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, this misery shouldn’t carry on into the regular season. Zuerlein still resides on the PUP list but special teams coordinator John Fassel gave an update on The Leg who is recovering from offseason back surgery.
“Greg has actually already started kicking. He hasn’t done it in the group setting, but our trainers put him on a great ‘back to kicking’ protocol, if you will,” Fassel said. “About two weeks ago he started with no-step kicks, then he graduated to one-step kicks and now he’s doing full-step kicks. We’re hoping hopefully this weekend, maybe even (Friday’s) Arizona (preseason game) pre-game that he’ll hit a few operation kicks with our snapper and our holder.”
Zuerlein has been known for his big leg, earning him the nickname Greg the Leg, but last season he struggled from distance. He was only three of nine on kicks from 50+ yards, a low percentage for him based on his previous career numbers. He also attempted a career high 41 field goals in 2021 and handled the kick off duties, and all of that work was on top of his training camp/preseason duties along with in-season practices. That workload led to some thought that his leg was being overworked, and Zuerlein is getting older at 33 years old.
Fassel seemingly acknowledge that to some degree when he added this commentary.
Fassel thinks Zuerlein’s time off is actually “a blessing in disguise” because his kicking leg won’t be overworked when the season starts.
“I think the timing is going to  great,” Fassel said, “and by (the Aug. 29 preseason finale against) Jacksonville or at least Week 1 (against Tampa Bay) he’s going to be 100% on all cylinders.”
A rested Zuerlein who will be fully ready for the season-opener in Tampa Bay is an ideal situation for the Cowboys.