Buehler Expects Full Recovery

IRVING, Tex. - Dallas Cowboys kicker hobbled through the locker room at Valley Ranch on crutches Wednesday, just one day after having surgery on his right hip.

The team's fifth-round draft choice out of USC in the National Football League's 2009 draft, Buehler went under the knife Tuesday to have a tear in his labrum repaired. (The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of ball-and-socket joints, like the hip joint.)

"It had been bothing me for a couple of weeks," Buehler said. "We decided to get an MRI, and discovered that it was torn."

Buehler already was on the team's injured reserve list, because of a groin injury. He said he didn't know an exact timetable for his return from the labrum surgery, but said he was told he should be able to take part in the team's conditioning program over the offseason.

"I don't know — I hope I can come back and it (his kicking leg) is even stronger than it was before," Buehler said. "What's the name of that movie (Rookie of the Year), where a kid players Major League Baseball, hurts his throwing arm and comes back throwing even harder? Maybe I could be like that."

When the Cowboys drafted the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Buehler, the Cowboys said he could kick off "and play special teams" — perhaps as a personal protector or covering on punt teams, although neither of those has happened (he did have two tackles this season).

Some were surprised the team selected him, considering the Cowboys already had a promising, strong-legged kicker in (current New York Jet) Nick Folk. But when Folk battled inconsistent accuracy, the team cut him and turned to Buehler to serve double duty, as the kickoff specialist and handling all placekicking duties. Last year, in his only season as the team's lone placekicker, Buehler connected on 24 of 32 field goals (75 percent), with a long of 53 yards. He also converted 42 of 44 extra points he attempted last season.

Buehler lost the placekicking job during training camp to rookie Dan Bailey, who has had a stellar year in his first season in the NFL after a standout career at Oklahoma State. Bailey has connected on 31 of 35 (88.6 percent) field goals this season and has converted all 32 extra points.

Buehler has one year remaining on a four-year contract worth nearly a total of nearly $1.9 million. His salary next season — the final year of the deal — is projected to be $565,000.

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