Lin Elliott wasn’t blindsided. He knew the hit was coming.
“I kind of dug my own hole,” the Dallas Cowboy kicker said after he was released on Tuesday. “Maybe if the team had been playing better I would have kicked better.”
Elliott sat in the equipment room while eight kickers tried to take his job. And Coach Jimmy Johnson found one he liked.
Eddie Murray, who has 14 years of NFL experience, and Tracy Bennett, a former World League kicker who was cut twice by Denver, were the finalists. The Cowboys signed Murray, who played in 182 games, making 249 of 334 field-goal attempts, with a long of 54 yards, and all but five of 399 conversion attempts.
“It will be kind of strange kicking for the Cowboys because I kicked against them in the past,” said Murray, who kicked for the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Johnson said Elliott lost confidence.
Elliott started slowly last season then hit 13 field goals in a row, a club record. However, he missed seven of 13 kicks in exhibitions and an extra point against Washington. He missed two field goals Sunday, including a 30-yarder, in the 13-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Said Elliott, formerly of Texas Tech: “I’m not bitter about it. I’ll just go back to Waco and teach high school kids how to kick. I’ll get another chance. And I have a Super Bowl ring.”
On the Cowboys’ downcast state of affairs, Johnson said: “We’ve dug ourselves a hole, but I think our team is right on track. I don’t like being 0-2. I’d like to wake up in the morning with it being 2-0.
“Without Emmitt Smith, we’re not the same team. We’ve just got to do what we have to do to be successful. If that means Troy (Aikman) has to throw 50 times a game, we’ll do what it takes to be successful.”
Smith’s negotiations with owner Jerry Jones drag on. Jones admitted Tuesday that the loss to Buffalo hurt the Cowboys’ negotiating stance with the missing running back.
“We might have had a better chance of Emmitt being here this week if we hadn’t lost to Buffalo,” Jones said. “We might not have the talks we’re having now with his representative. I’ve seen all I need to see to know how important he is to the team.”
Jones told the Dallas Morning News he is ready to offer Smith a contract that would pay as much or more than the one signed by Buffalo’s Thurman Thomas, which calls for $13.5 million over four years. But he is hesitant to make such an offer because he believes Smith’s agent, Richard Howell, would still ask for more.
“I think it’s real clear if we could get them to get real, we could have this done,” Jones said. “There is no doubt in my mind his representatives have had no real interest in getting him in here.”
Jones said that as recently as Tuesday, Howell demanded a five-year, $21 million agreement that would surpass Green Bay’s Reggie White, making Smith the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback.
Guard Joe Milinichik underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, forcing the San Diego Chargers to shift their offensive line for Sunday’s game against the Houston Oilers at San Diego.
Milinichik, who was injured during Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, is expected to be sidelined at least two weeks. He will be replaced by either second-year tackle Eric Jonassen or rookie guard Joe Cocozzo, who both played against Denver.