The Dallas Cowboys lost one of the team’s best players on Saturday when punter Mat McBriar was placed on injured reserve. McBriar has suffered from what the organization calls “drop foot” on his left foot. Several nerves in the foot haven’t fired for over two months and it affected the right-footed Briar’s punting. Chris Jones has been called up from the practice squad to punt in the Cowboys’ final game against the New York Giants on Sunday night.
This is huge for the Cowboys; McBriar quietly makes a monumental difference in games by giving Dallas an advantage in the field position battle. His strong right foot consistently puts the Cowboys’ defense in a good position to stop opposing offenses.
Jones appeared in one game this year when McBriar’s foot first began to bother him and averaged 39.5 yards per punt in a 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
McBriar also held for Cowboys field goal kicker Dan Bailey. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is the team’s backup holder, but he’s nursing a bruised right hand. Dallas also called up quarterback Chris Griesen from the practice squad, indicating he may hold for Bailey on Sunday night.
This domino effect of McBriar’s injury could eventually make a huge impact on Sunday night’s game, which is for the NFC East title. Not only does it damper the Cowboys’ punting average, but it potentially will create problems with Bailey’s field goal kicking.
Even more so, McBriar will be a free agent at the end of the season and his left foot may require surgery to repair. This will play a huge role in the Cowboys’ decision whether to re-sign the special teams captain. Jones’ performance on Sunday night will also be vital to the Cowboys’ decision on whether he will potentially be McBriar’s long-term replacement.
Dallas is already primed to get blown out in New York and this definitely doesn’t help. On the positive side, maybe this will lead to a slew of personnel changes by team owner Jerry Jones. Look at it as a potential blessing in disguise. Don’t uncross your fingers, though…
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