Cortez Knows Job Far From Secure

It's not uncommon for teams to carry more than one kicker during training camp. In some cases, that team is seriously trying to choose who will handle the kicking chores for the upcoming season; in others, an extra kicker is brought in merely to light a fire under the incumbent.

When the Cowboys cut rookie free agent Brett Visintainer earlier this summer, head coach Bill Parcells summoned Jose Cortez to come to camp, even though incumbent Billy Cundiff already was in place.

Then Cundiff got suffered a torn quadricep muscle and subsequently was cut … leaving Cortez as the lone kicker on the roster many thought he had little chance to make.

"I had no choice," Parcells said Wednesday. "You can't have a kicker who's not 100 percent. Some other guys (at other positions) … they can be less than 100 percent and still go out and just play football. With kickers, they have to be 100 percent. You can't have someone tell you he's 100 percent '…but I can't kick off.' That's not good enough. I had no choice."

At first glance, Cortez's résumé looks like it was never finished. The Oregon State grad has been in the NFL for six seasons, but has kicked field goals in just two. He spent the last two seasons in Minnesota, largely as the Vikings' kickoff specialist. His desire to handle all of the kicking duties played a part in his decision to end up with the Cowboys.

"I don't want to be just a kickoff guy," said Cortez, who has hit 41 of 57 career field-goal attempts and all 81 extra points in his career. "I want to do all parts of the game. So this was a great opportunity, because they said I'd get a chance to kick field goals, too."

Cortez admitted to being surprised that Cundiff was dismissed so rapidly, adding that he hardly feels safe in his current position, despite the accolades Parcells threw his way during Wednesday's press conference.

"I was kicking about five times a week (before joining the Cowboys), so I came in ready," Cortez said. "Of course I want to be one of the best, to be as accurate as I can, and make every field goal I can.

"But I haven't been kicking the ball well in practice. When you don't kick the ball well in practice, that makes the coach think too much. You don't want that."

Parcells did say Wednesday that the kicker position is one the team "will continue to look at." Translation: Cortez, despite kicking well in the Cowboys' 18-10 preseason win at Seattle, is assured of nothing yet.

"All I can do is continue to work hard," Cortez said, "and try to be as consistent as possible."

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