A Dallas Cowboy from 2004-11, punter Mat McBriar is poised to win the starting job over second-year man Chas Henry as he suits up for his first-year in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.
The 33-year old will have to prove to the Eagles’ coaching staff that he is fully recovered from surgery on his left-foot (non-kicking foot). So far, McBriar, who worked out for the Cowboys earlier this summer but failed to reach an agreement, feels very confident in his recovery.
“I’m planting pretty well with my legs, and I’m happy with the way things are going,” said McBriar following practice two days ago. “If it was a game week next week, I wouldn’t have a problem.”
His recovery has been rather fast compared to what doctors expected, in fact, he wasn’t even sure if he would be able to play in 2012.
“There was a lot of questioning. I had surgery back in February and I didn’t move it really for three months. It was a bit scary,” said McBriar. “Since then, it’s been a fast recovery. I wasn’t really thinking about the season at all, and then a few weeks ago I thought it could be midseason.
“Now, sort of out of the blue, I’m out here at training camp.”
A former Australian rules football player, McBriar is competing with a second-year punter for the starting position. McBriar, when healthy, is the superior kicker compared to Henry. He left Dallas as the franchise leader in gross (45.3) and net (38.1) averages according to ESPN.com. In comparison, Henry recorded an average of 42.9 yards per punt last year with a net average of 37.5.
In addition, McBriar is a very good coffin corner punter, nailing opponents within the 20-yard line 35.4% of the time over his career, including an incredible 38 kicks within the 20 in 2009. Meanwhile, Henry only averaged 28.8% (19 total) of his kicks within that range.
With the statistics on his side, the two-time Pro Bowler appears to be the favorite for the starter’s job. But he welcomes the competition with Henry and hopes his successful recovery and strong performance will be good enough to convince the Eagles to bring him aboard.
“Chas had a really solid rookie year. I’ve seen him the last few days and he’s hitting the ball really well. It’s great to have competition. I welcome it, and I think that we’ll both get better,” stated McBriar. “At the end of the day, we’ll see what direction the team wants to go in terms of Chas or I, and I’m hoping for the best for myself as well.”