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Eagles Notes: McBriar in contention for Eagles' punting job

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Eagles' most competitive roster battle might be at punter after the team signed veteran Mat McBriar to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Eagles' most competitive roster battle might be at punter after the team signed veteran Mat McBriar to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys, will compete with incumbent Chas Henry for the roster spot during training camp and the preseason.

"Should be great competition. That's what we're trying to do," coach Andy Reid said after Wednesday morning's practice. "You're talking about a kid that's one of the best in the National Football League. He's coming off an injury. We'll see how that all works out and how he works through that, but he had a good workout, obviously impressed us there. I don't think Chas is going to bow down to him at all."

Reid said McBriar is "90 percent" recovered from a nerve condition called drop foot, which makes it difficult to lift the front of the foot and hindered him last season. The condition resulted from a cyst that impeded a nerve in his non-kicking foot. The cyst was removed during a February surgery, and McBriar has been recovering ever since.

Because of the injury, McBriar experienced a sharp decline in productivity. He had a 43.8-yard average and a 36.1-yard net average, which were his worst totals since early in his eight-year career. The struggles came in the latter portion of the season, when the condition first developed. McBriar eventually was placed on injured reserve.

"Last year was difficult," he said. "It was tough to deal with. Before the surgery, I had a lot of nerve pain. My foot completely dropped. Just didn't have any control and my consistency was just horrendous. It's been a big recovery since then."

His initial concerns were not about football, but rather his long-term health. He visited the Mayo Clinic, where the cause of the discomfort was determined. The nerves still need a few months to recover, but he is functional enough to play football.

McBriar has been punting for a month and said he is "rusty." His workouts were conducted in San Diego with former Eagles punter Sav Rocca, a fellow Australian. Rocca praised the Eagles in conversations with McBriar.

McBriar, 33, spent eight seasons with the Cowboys from 2004 to 2011. He was all-pro in 2006 and 2010 and led the NFL in punting average in both seasons.

To make room on the roster for McBriar, the Eagles released former Temple cornerback Kee-ayre Griffin, who had signed with the team on Sunday.

No more tight ends

After working out veteran Visanthe Shiancoe on Tuesday and then watching him sign with New England, the Eagles have no plans to bring in another free-agent tight end for a workout.

The Eagles had mild interest in Jeremy Shockey, but they put a physical on hold. The desire is to create competition beyond Brent Celek, where Clay Harbor is still developing and Brett Brackett and Chase Ford have no experience.

"We're keeping all our options open, and it has nothing to do with Clay, Celek, and [Celek's] coming off the [offseason surgery]," Reid said. "That's not what it is. There are a couple of good tight ends out there that we liked and thought we'd look at."

Day off for Vick

Quarterback Michael Vick did not practice Wednesday because of a scheduled day off. Vick will return to practice when the entire team takes the field for the first time on Thursday.

"Michael had the day off like we've done for the last 14 years here," Reid said. "The starting quarterback gets this morning practice off."

Healthy start

There were no new injuries during the three days of training camp devoted to rookies and selected veterans. When the Eagles practice Thursday afternoon, the only players expected to miss the session are Jason Peters, Colt Anderson, and Mike Patterson, all of whom are recovering from injuries suffered before camp opened.