IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys no longer have two kickers on their roster.
David Buehler was placed on season-ending injured reserve Thursday with a groin injury he aggravated in Wednesday's practice. He was replaced on the 53-man roster by offensive lineman Daniel Loper, who was cut last week.
Buehler missed four games earlier in the season because of a groin injury suffered at San Francisco in Week 2.
"David has been working through an injury really all year long," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Thursday. "We felt like it was important for us to give him a chance to come back and kick, so we were very patient with him. I'm not so sure he was completely healthy.
"He was kicking yesterday and after practice he really aggravated it severely. He went down to get it checked out. We just feel it's going to take him much too long to come back. You start factoring in how long is he going to be? How many games do we have left? We felt like that was the best decision for our team."
Garrett continued to talk about Buehler's leg strength and ability to help set field position as the prime reasons why the team kept two kickers. Buehler had nine touchbacks on 18 kickoffs and the opponents' average starting point was the 20.4.
Dan Bailey, who took over in Buehler's absence, had six touchbacks on 24 tries and the opponents' average starting point is the 22.3.
Buehler had 51 touchbacks in his first two years but was unable to hold on to the field-goal kicking job after connecting on 24 of 32 tries in 2010. Although he has unquestioned leg strength, he was not accurate from 30 to 39 yards, making four of seven.
Bailey won the kicking job in training camp and has made a team rookie record 19 straight. His only miss this year has come from 21 yards.
The Cowboys activated kicker Kai Forbath from the non-football injury list now that he has recovered from a quadriceps injury. The team has three weeks to activate him to the 53-man roster, which would require a roster move, or place him on injured reserve.
With Miles Austin out this week with a hamstring injury, the Cowboys could call up another wide receiver and that would also call for the team to create a spot on the roster. Practice squad rookie Dwayne Harris would be the most likely option because he handled the punt return job earlier this season.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.