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Monday, February 20, 2012
Cowboys position series: Special teams

By Calvin Watkins

This is the final installment of our 12-part series breaking down the Cowboys roster. Today we look a special teams.

Mat McBriar
2011 was not Mat McBriar's best season, mainly due to a nerve problem that prevented him from planting his non-kicking foot.
Players: Mat McBriar (free agent), David Buehler (signed through 2012), Dan Bailey (signed through 2013), Chris Jones (signed through 2013), LP Ladouceur (signed through 2012)

Top free agents: Kickers: Nick Folk, New York Jets; Joe Nedney, San Francisco 49ers; Matt Prater, Denver Broncos; Punters: Donnie Jones, St. Louis Rams; Steve Weatherford, New York Giants

Top draft prospects: Kickers: Greg Zuerlein, Missouri Western; Phillip Welch, Wisconsin; Blair Walsh, Georgia; Punters: Drew Butler, Georgia; Bryan Anger, California

2011 review: This was not McBriar's (36.7 net average) best season, mainly due to a nerve problem that prevented him from planting his non-kicking foot. McBriar had his best game in holding down Arizona's Patrick Peterson. Bailey, a rookie, tied a franchise record with 26 consecutive made field goal tries. He emerged as probably the third best rookie on the team. Buehler lost the field goal job to Bailey, and had his conditioning questioned by Jerry Jones toward the end of the season. Buehler's season ended with surgery on his groin.

Offseason preview: McBriar underwent surgery to repair a cyst that caused his nerve damage. Doctors said that McBriar should make a full recovery, and as an unrestricted free agent, the Cowboys need to decide whether to sign him to a two-to-three year deal. They should. Buehler might not return and Bailey has emerged as someone the team can rely on. The return game was a mess as a host of players returned punts and kicks. Dwayne Harris should take over both spots going forward, but Dez Bryant is also a threat even though he was inconsistent on punt returns. When the Cowboys evaluate the skill position players in the draft, they need to find a player who can also return punts and kicks.

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