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Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy says kicker Brett Maher 'needs to practice well this week'

One day after the Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad following Brett Maher's four-miss playoff game, head coach Mike McCarthy said there is no lack of faith in Maher.

"It doesn't take anything away from our trust in Brett," McCarthy told reporters on Thursday. "I just think it's part of the responsibility. Player acquisition's a 365-day [thing], this is nothing out of the normal for us.

"I think the fact that we'll have a chance to watch Tristan, I'm looking forward to seeing him work today. I think he's a talented young kicker. I just think we want to make sure that we're always in position to always add depth to our football team."

Maher missed an NFL-record four extra-point attempts in the Cowboys' wild-card win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, eventually making his final try of the game and finishing 1-for-5 on XPs. The irony is that the shaky performance came amid what has been a career season for the 33-year-old kicker.

Maher made 29 of 32 field-goal tries in the regular season -- including 9 of 11 from 50 yards and beyond -- and made 50 of his league-high 53 XP attempts, good for 94.3%. Monday night was the first game all season that Maher had missed more than one kick of any kind.

The Cowboys aren't exactly calling it a competition between Maher and Vizcaino, but McCarthy did suggest that practice performance could alter Dallas' preparation prior to Sunday's Divisional Round showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.

"He needs to practice well this week," McCarthy said of Maher. "We all need to practice well this week. I better coach well this week. ... Both guys will have a chance to kick (Thursday). … We're in a real good spot."

According to one report, Maher appeared to bounce back from the game in Thursday's practice, making all of his field-goal tries while Vizcaino made only three of his five attempts.

Asked if the kicking situation makes things uncomfortable with his team one game away from the NFC Championship Game, McCarthy said no. It's all part of the process every team goes through, per McCarthy.

"I just don't view it that way," McCarthy said. "... I'm all about the commitment, the journey, the belief. You don't get this far, you don't accomplish what you accomplish sitting there second-guessing, operating on a glass-half-full mindset.

"Whoever lines up here on the 48, I'll have great confidence, and the expectation is to win, be successful."

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