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Challenge of carrying two active kickers not insurmountable for Cowboys

Kicker Dan Bailey should be back after missing the last four games with a groin injury. Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There is hope Dan Bailey will be able to kick Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Bailey has missed the last four Dallas Cowboys games because of a groin strain, but he started kicking last week and went through what looked to be a normal pregame warm-up prior to last Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

As the Cowboys put together the 46-man roster for today’s game, can they carry two kickers?

In a perfect world, Bailey would be able to handle all of the kicking duties -- field goal attempts and kickoffs. The Cowboys might not want to put that kind of strain on his leg, which is why dressing Bailey and Mike Nugent can make some sense.

When the Cowboys lost Bailey against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 22, safety Jeff Heath took over the kickoff duties and made two of three PATs. Could he handle the kickoff chores well enough to make Nugent an afterthought? Maybe.

For now, let’s pencil in Bailey and Nugent on the 46-man roster. Five inactive players are easy to figure: Sean Lee will miss his second straight game with a hamstring strain. With Tyron Smith returning to action, the Cowboys don’t need eight offensive linemen on the 46, so Chaz Green is the odd man out. Tight end Blake Jarwin isn’t needed, and apparently the coaches are willing to risk going with just two tailbacks, so Darren McFadden is a scratch. New defensive tackle Daniel Ross is still working into shape.

So that brings four players under the microscope for the final two spots: receivers Noah Brown and Ryan Switzer, cornerback Bene Benwikere and linebacker Justin March-Lillard.

Considering the health of Anthony Hitchens, who has a groin strain, keeping March-Lillard active makes a ton of sense even though he didn’t play against the Eagles. Benwikere seems to be the odd man out in the secondary with the return to health of Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys get snaps from Brown and Switzer in special teams and on offense.

So the guess at the inactives, with the idea the team will keep both kickers on the game-day roster, is McFadden, Jarwin, Lee, Green, Ross, Benwikere and Switzer.

The guess at the inactives with just Bailey kicking is Nugent, McFadden, Jarwin, Lee, Green, Ross and Benwikere.