Dallas Cowboys: Mat Mcbriar

Cowboys re-sign Chris Jones

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
12:30
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IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones has signed his exclusive rights tender of $645,000.

The move chews up $150,000 of the roughly $2 million worth of salary-cap space.

Jones averaged 45 yards per punt in his first full season with the Cowboys. He appeared in two games in 2011 as an injury replacement for Mat McBriar and four games in 2012 before a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season.

Jones had a 39.1-yard net average and had 30 of his 77 punts end up inside the opponents’ 20. Teams averaged only 9.2 yards per punt return against the Cowboys in 2013.

Earlier in the offseason the Cowboys signed kicker Dan Bailey to a seven-year extension worth $22.5 million.

DeMarco Murray added to Pro Bowl

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
7:56
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have their fifth Pro Bowler with running back DeMarco Murray named as an injury replacement for San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore.

Murray ran for 1,124 yards on 217 carries with nine touchdowns in 14 games. He missed two games because of a knee injury. He is the first Dallas running back to make the NFL’s all-star game since Marion Barber in 2007. He became the first Cowboys player with 1,000 yards since 2006 when Julius Jones gained 1,084 yards.

Murray will join wide receiver Dez Bryant and left tackle Tyron Smith, who were voted into the game, as well as tight end Jason Witten and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who were added as injury replacements, this week in Hawaii.

This the most Pro Bowl players the Cowboys have had since they had six in 2010: Miles Austin, Andre Gurode, Mat McBriar, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware and Witten. They had just five Pro Bowl selections in the last two seasons combined.

Look back: Rob Ryan's pressure

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
9:51
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IRVING, Texas – Sorry for the delay on this week’s "A Look Back." Maybe we should call it "Better Late than Never" this week as we give a quick review of the Cowboys’ win last week at Philadelphia.

Once again, Rob Ryan relied on a four-man rush most of the time, even as people want to view him as a blitz-happy defensive coordinator. The Cowboys used a four-man rush 29 times against the Eagles, three-man pressure five times and brought five or more eight times.

Did things change drastically after Michael Vick suffered a concussion and was replaced by rookie Nick Foles?

Vick was in on 18 snaps and 10 pass calls. The Cowboys rushed three guys four times against Vick. They brought four-man pressure three times and three times they brought five or more guys. When they brought at least five guys Vick was 0-for-3. His final snap came on a screen in which Dallas brought pressure with Ernie Sims up the middle.

The Cowboys brought five men against Foles five times. DeMarcus Ware hit him on the first blitz, but the second time the Cowboys brought heat it was blocked enough for Foles to slide to his right and find Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard touchdown after a coverage bust by Charlie Peprah.

How did the offense hold up against Philadelphia’s pressure?

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles brought six-man pressure five times and twice the Eagles were able to sack Tony Romo. The Cowboys’ only completion against six-man pressure came on a deep sideline throw to Dez Bryant.

In the second half Bowles used that six-man pressure just once, and it led to a Romo throwaway.

Romo’s two touchdown passes came against four-man pressure. Overall, Romo completed 15-of-20 passes against four-man pressure, but the Cowboys were unable to get the ball down the field often. Romo’s deepest throw against four-man pressure was the 25-yarder to Miles Austin where Austin eluded three defenders and made something out of nothing.

The last time the Cowboys returned a punt for a TD before Sunday was Nov. 21, 2010 against Detroit when Bryan McCann alertly picked up a loose ball and ran 97 yards for the score. Dwayne Harris’ 78-yard return for a score was not a sign of great point-of-attack blocking but a sign of how the return is set up.

Vince Agnew and Orlando Scandrick did a nice job on the gunners to free Harris, though Agnew’s block was close to a penalty. Lance Dunbar and Eric Frampton double-teamed Riley Cooper out of the way as Harris reached the sideline, and Danny McCray took care of Mat McBriar.

That was really it as the other blockers did a nice job of setting up the return before Harris was able to get up to speed.

Can the Cowboys get another return for a touchdown? The last time they had multiple punt returns for a touchdown in a season also came in 2010.

Dwayne Harris: Punt return TD set up perfectly

November, 11, 2012
11/11/12
8:11
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PHILADELPHIA -- It didn’t take Dwayne Harris long to start thinking about six points on the punt with the score tied a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter.

“When the ball left his foot,” Harris said.

Harris knew he had a chance to take Mat McBriar’s punt to the house as soon as he saw Orlando Scandrick block the gunner inside at the line of scrimmage. Sure enough, Harris went untouched on the 78-yard return up the left sideline, celebrating his first career touchdown with a salute as a Veteran’s Day tribute.

The only man who had a chance to stop Harris was McBriar, the former Cowboys’ Pro Bowl punter whose talents don’t include tackling. Special teams captain Danny McCray walled off McBriar, and Harris probably could have walked into the end zone at that point.

“All I had to do is run to the outside,” Harris said. “Everybody else was blocked. It was set up perfectly.”

The Other Side: Philly Inquirer's Jeff McLane

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
10:34
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IRVING, Texas -- For this week’s version of The Other Side, we check in with Jeff McLane from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Archer - Some people here are saying Jason Garrett is in trouble especially with the Sean Payton news. How much trouble is Andy Reid in and could Payton be an option there?

McLane -- He's in a boatload of trouble. Owner Jeffrey Lurie said before the season that the Eagles needed to show "substantial improvement" from last season's 8-8 record for Reid to return for a 15th season. With the Eagles 3-5, Reid would have to finish at least 7-1, maybe 6-2, and make the playoffs to survive. That is a tall order considering how horrendous the team has looked during a four-game losing streak. As for Payton, I think there's a 1-2 percent chance he ends up in Philly should Reid get fired. Most likely, he's stays in New Orleans, and if he goes anywhere it's clear Dallas would be No. 1 on his list. Payton has ties to the Eagles and the area, and Lurie would be a fool not to consider the Saints coach, but it's probably a long shot.

TA -- Tony Romo has not put up good numbers this year. Neither has Vick. The Cowboys offensive line isn't very good. Neither is Philly's. Is there a correlation?

JM -- You bet. The Eagles offensive line has been the Achilles heel of the offense all season long. There have been significant injuries -- Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans are all lost for the season -- but the Eagles failed to stock the line with competent reserves and have paid the price. Vick hasn't been sharp by any means. But he's been hit far too many times and has had little time to throw and it's affected his decision-making.

TA -- How much longer before Nick Foles gets on the field?

JM -- If the Eagles keep on losing Foles will have to get on the field at some point. If they lose the next two and fall to 3-7, it might be time to play the rookie. If they hang around and win a few more over the next month and are, say, 5-8, with three to go, you might see Foles at that point. Reid would have an obligation to show the organization what Foles could do as a starter and whether he was a legitimate option next season.

TA -- It's been a rough start for Todd Bowles, the former Dallas assistant. He's been a 3-4 guy in the past, now he's running this defense. Any long-term hopes for him?

JM -- Bowles was thrown into a difficult situation replacing Juan Castillo two weeks ago. He has never been a coordinator in the NFL before, was taking over a defense in disarray and had to face Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in his first two games. Andy Reid has touted Bowles as a head coaching candidate, but it's hard to see him being a candidate for the Eagles' job -- or any job for that matter -- if the defense continues to look this sloppy.

TA -- We'll keep it light on the last one. Mat McBriar is the Cowboys' best punter, great guy. How's he doing up there?

JM -- He's been OK as a punter. He's still got enough leg, but he's booted a few too many into the end zone and a few too many line drives. As for McBriar the person, we've already found out he's a fine bloke. He's living downtown, so I've tried to give him some dining -- and drinking -- options when he's hungry or looking to have a Foster's.

Dan Bailey gets another new holder

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
11:07
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IRVING, Texas -- In not even more than two NFL seasons, kicker Dan Bailey will work with his fourth holder Monday night.

Last season, as a rookie, Bailey had Mat McBriar, Tony Romo and Chris Jones holding for him.

McBriar had a leg problem, Romo held briefly and Jones became the full-time holder in the last regular-season game of 2011. Jones held the job this season again after the Cowboys elected McBriar to test the free agent market.

Now with Jones out for at least two weeks with a sprained knee, newly signed punter Brian Moorman will hold Monday night against the Chicago Bears. Moorman was the holder for Buffalo Bills until he was released this week.

"In this situation, he's obviously a guy who has been in the league for awhile," Bailey said. "He knows what he's doing, and it's not like something new that he has never done. It's just a familiarity thing, kind of learning what he's used to and him kind of learning what I'm used to. We'll make a compromise and come together and try to make it work."

Bailey doesn't seem to mind the different holders because it hasn't bothered his work.

Last year, Bailey tied a Cowboys record with 26 consecutive field goals and his 32 overall field goals set a Cowboys rookie record.

Bailey is 4-4 on field goals this season, with his longest coming from 33 yards.

"I think as much as anything else, what impress me about him is his mental toughness, his maturity," coach Jason Garrett said. "We saw that right from the start, nothing seemed to bother him. He's had a few different holders. ... He just says put it down and I'll kick it through. That goes a long way in telling me what type of kicker he is."

Breaking down the Cowboys' 53-man roster

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
7:18
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A look at the first -- not final, because the bottom will be churned -- edition of the 2012 Cowboys’ 53-man roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Kyle Orton
Stephen McGee
Why is McGee still here? Jason Garrett must have a soft spot for third-string quarterbacks who are smart guys with good character. After all, Garrett lasted a long time in the league as a guy like that. Of course, McGee might not last the weekend, depending on what happens with waiver claims.

RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner
Lance Dunbar made the decision to cut him difficult, dashing through the Dolphins’ defense for 105 yards and a TD on 15 carries in the preseason finale. The Cowboys hope they can sneak North Texas’ all-time leading rusher through waivers to the practice squad.

FULLBACKS (1)
Lawrence Vickers
Vickers better be ready Wednesday night. If Jason Witten is out, the Cowboys are likely to use a fullback against the Giants a lot more than they normally do.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
John Phillips
James Hanna
No need for a veteran such as former Redskin Chris Cooley. He couldn’t learn the offense in time to help against the Giants, and Witten won’t miss more than one game because of his lacerated spleen.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Cole Beasley
Andre Holmes
The release of Danny Coale marks the second straight season the Cowboys cut a fifth-round rookie draft pick. Cornerback Josh Thomas didn’t clear waivers last season, getting claimed by the Panthers. The Cowboys like their depth here, but Ogletree (25 catches, 294 yards, no touchdowns) is the only reserve receiver who has ever caught a pass in the NFL.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Tyron Smith
Doug Free
Nate Livings
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Phil Costa
Ryan Cook
Jermey Parnell
Derrick Dockery
David Arkin
The trade for Cook addressed the glaring lack of depth at center. The Cowboys apparently still have hope that Arkin can develop, but the 2011 fourth-round pick is far from being ready to play during the regular season.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff
Jason Hatcher
Kenyon Coleman
Sean Lissemore
Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford
Josh Brent
Coleman and Spears both survived, which seemed like a long shot during training camp. Clifton Geathers didn’t do enough to push either of the $2 million veterans off the roster.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee
Bruce Carter
Dan Connor
Alex Albright
Albright broke into the league as an outside linebacker, but his ability to play inside helped burst Orie Lemon’s bubble. Carter, a much better athlete than Connor, won the starting job opposite Sean Lee.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Kyle Wilber
Folks are fired up about the release of promising pass rusher Adrian Hamilton, but the Cowboys put great emphasis on their reserve linebackers’ ability to help on special teams. That cost Hamilton, as well as Lemon.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Brandon Carr
Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins
Mario Butler
The biggest question mark here: What role will Jenkins play? The starting jobs were filled this offseason. Jenkins has never played in the slot, and he won’t practice for the first time this summer until Saturday.

SAFETIES (5)
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Matt Johnson
Mana Silva
It will be hard for Johnson to help this season after missing so much time due to Eastern Washington’s class schedule and his hamstring problems. However, the Cowboys didn’t want to risk losing their fourth-round pick to a waivers claim.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Dan Bailey
Chris Jones
L.P. Ladouceur
If Jones struggles, there will be plenty of punters available. At the moment, that list includes ex-Cowboy Mat McBriar.

Vol. VI: 53-man roster projection

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
9:00
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Let's take one last stab at projecting the 53-man roster after watching the preseason finale and talking to a few folks who have some say in the decision-making process.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
Tony Romo
Kyle Orton
It would have been nice if Stephen McGee said goodbye. He bolted the locker room before the media was granted access after the preseason finale.

RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner
There’s a lot to like about little Lance Dunbar. The Cowboys hope he can develop for a season on the practice squad.

FULLBACKS (2)
Lawrence Vickers
Shaun Chapas
Why Chapas? He can fill John Phillips’ roles on special teams if Jason Witten misses the season opener. Cut him after Week 1 to address depth on the offensive line.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
John Phillips
James Hanna
The only question here is whether Witten will be able to play against the Giants. It makes no sense to acquire a veteran such as ex-Redskin Chris Cooley. He couldn’t learn the Cowboys’ system in time to help in the opener, and there is no concern about Witten’s spleen injury being a long-term issue.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Cole Beasley
Andre Holmes
The Cowboys will probably take the gamble that fifth-round pick Danny Coale will clear waivers and be available for the practice squad. They cut their fifth-round pick last season. Cornerback Josh Thomas got claimed, but it’s not as if the Cowboys are kicking themselves for that decision. As inconsistent as Holmes is, he has more potential than Coale and was more productive this preseason.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Tyron Smith
Doug Free
Nate Livings
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Phil Costa
David Arkin
Jermey Parnell
Derrick Dockery
They guaranteed $214,000 of Ronald Leary’s salary, but he can be one of the NFL’s highest-paid practice squad players. He admittedly struggled during the preseason. They’ll need a tackle on the practice squad, too. The Cowboys will go lighter here than they have in the recent past, when they’ve typically kept 10 offensive linemen.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff
Jason Hatcher
Kenyon Coleman
Sean Lissemore
Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford
Josh Brent
You can only be a pet cat for so long. At some point, you’ve got to make plays to show progress and hope that the potential is developing. Clifton Geathers hasn’t done that. Spears and Coleman should be on the roster -- unless perhaps the Cowboys can get value in a trade for one of them.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee
Bruce Carter
Dan Connor
Orie Lemon
The pick six didn’t necessarily get Lemon off the bubble. There are concerns about his ability to contribute on special teams. The Cowboys could go light here because of Alex Albright’s versatility. But Lemon has earned some fans in the front office this summer.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Kyle Wilber
Alex Albright
Sorry, Adrian Hamilton fans. The numbers just don’t work in his favor and the Cowboys have no confidence he can help on special teams. Having said that, you can never have enough pass rushers, which makes it risky cutting Hamilton and hoping to sign him to the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Brandon Carr
Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins
Mario Butler
The only drama here is whether Mike Jenkins, who can start practicing Saturday, will be ready to play against the Giants. If he is, what’s his role?

SAFETIES (5)
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Matt Johnson
Mana Silva
Johnson’s tender hamstrings have the Cowboys in a tough spot. He’s hardly practiced, but he’s not seriously injured. They might discuss putting him on the injured reserve, but they’d much rather not waste the rookie season of a fourth-round pick. They don’t want to expose him to waivers. With Mario Butler getting some work at safety, Silva could be the odd man out.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Dan Bailey
Chris Jones
L.P. Ladouceur
Mat McBriar is available again if the Cowboys aren’t confident in Jones.

Agent: Eagles will release Mat McBriar

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
2:22
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Former Cowboys punter Mat McBriar will be released by the Philadelphia Eagles, according to agent Jack Bechta.

Bechta tweeted that the move is likely to become official Thursday.

Chas Henry beat out McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowler in Dallas, for the Eagles' punting job. McBriar, who had offseason surgery to repair a nerve condition stemming from the drop foot that prematurely ended his 2011 season, averaged 41.3 yards on eight preseason punts.

"I suspect he will be snapped up quickly," Bechta tweeted.

The Cowboys opted not to re-sign McBriar, who averaged 45.3 yards per punt during his eight-season tenure in Dallas, after a late July workout because they didn't want to match the $300,000 in guaranteed money the Eagles were offering.

Chris Jones, McBriar's replacement, has averaged 44.7 yards on 13 punts this preseason.

Chris Jones learning art of flip-flop punt

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
9:35
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SAN DIEGO – If you learned one thing from Saturday’s loss to San Diego, it’s that Chris Jones can serve as the Cowboys’ emergency running back.

The Cowboys new punter picked up a first down on a 10-yard run after dropping a snap, which did not go as planned.

“Unfortunately just a mistake on my part,” Jones said. “I was lucky it all panned out and I was able to recover the ball and pick up a first down. It just kind of fell that way.”

Jones was attempting a flip-flop punt from the San Diego 40 in the second quarter when he dropped what was a perfect snap.

Jones’ predecessor, Mat McBriar, used the end-over-end punt to near perfection over the years as a way to pin the opponent deep. Jones began working on it when he joined the Cowboys’ practice squad last year and officially added it to his repertoire in the offseason. He used it with success against Oakland in the first preseason game.

“I wouldn’t say it’s hard to learn, but it’s just hard to handle in a sense because it’s more of a touch punt,” Jones said. “You can go out here and crank a regular ball 60 yards or whatever, but with that ball you have a limited distance so you have to know where the line of scrimmage is and what kind of kick you need. I’m feeling more comfortable with it overall. It’s still something I work on with the ball striking and the locations to get a feel for whether the ball has to go 40 yards or 48 yards.”

Different snaps for L.P. Ladouceur

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
11:00
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OXNARD, Calif. – Training camp has been a little strange for long snapper L.P. Ladouceur. For the first time in his career with the Cowboys, he's not snapping the ball to Mat McBriar.

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“The first day we were out here, I was like, ‘This is kind of weird. A lot of the guys I came in with are not here.’ Mat had been the one here ever since I’ve been here,” Ladouceur said. “We had a good relationship and now you have to start new ones with a new kicker and punter, which is fun to do, too. … With Mat, if one night we wanted to go grab dinner, we’d go get diner. Now it’s different. These guys are eight, nine years younger, and it’s different getting on the same page.”

Don’t kicker Dan Bailey and punter Chris Jones eat?

“Oh, they eat,” Ladouceur joked. “They don’t buy.”

There is also a subtle on-field change in Ladouceur’s job because Jones is left footed.

“If you’re looking that the punter, a right footer when they catch the snap, they went the ball over their right leg,” Ladouceur said. “A left footer wants it over the left part of his body. And in our protection, I’m the guard really, so I’ve got to snap at an angle. And you’ve got to make sure when you’re going right, it’s on his left hip. And when you go left, it’s a little outside, so he can walk into it.”

That Ladouceur can snap so specifically should not be a surprise. He has yet to have a poor one in his career.

“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Ladouceur said. “One thing Joe (DeCamillis) is very good about in special teams and bringing guys up to speed is having that-one play mentality. He’s all about, 'Guys, we’ve got one down. We don’t have three to make a first down. We have one down to execute perfectly.'”

Ladouceur, 31, is among the oldest players on the Cowboys roster, and he understands economics could play a part in his future. He is set to make $795,000 and count $950,000 against the salary cap as he enters his free-agent year.

“Obviously I think about that, but of all 32 snappers, I’m not even in the top 10 highest paid,” Ladouceur said. “If it comes down to that, OK. But some guys get a lot more money than me. I’m not worried about that. I’m worrying about this year, playing now and whatever happens. … Obviously they bring in a rookie every year to compete to see if the rookie can take my job and obviously they can’t because I’m confident in my skill. I know I’m better than anybody else.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Every Wednesday we’ll be bringing you Five Wonders, with today being the official training camp debut of the award-winning fixture. And by award-winning I mean the gold star my children put on my computer a long time ago.

With no further ado, here we go:

* Jason Garrett likes to say his receivers need to run, run and then run some more. As a group they have to be in the best physical condition of any players on a team. But I wonder if the Cowboys should monitor how much work they give Miles Austin. He missed six games last year because of hamstring injuries to both legs, and the offense missed him. Given Dez Bryant’s issues, the Cowboys need Austin more than ever, so it might be wise to limit Austin some. It’s a balance Garrett has to find of getting players ready for a season while not taxing them so much that they become susceptible to injury. And while I wonder about this, I don’t believe the Cowboys are wondering about it at all.

* I wonder if this is the year defensive end Clifton Geathers gets into the mix. He has been with the Cowboys for parts of the last two seasons, playing in five games last season and garnering five tackles. At 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, he is definitely a candidate for the All-Airport team. He just looks like a player. And he’s also cheaper than Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears. Coleman has a $1.9 million salary. Spears is set to make $2 million. Geathers is set to make $540,000. You can’t discount the financials in these decisions. The Cowboys jettisoned their veteran offensive linemen last year and they chose not to sign Mat McBriar over $300,000. The Cowboys are getting younger and cheaper, and if Geathers can show he can handle more of a role he could slide two veterans out of the mix.

* Last year the Cowboys hit on several veteran free agent finds during the season, from Laurent Robinson to Tony Fiammetta to Montrae Holland to Sammy Morris. I don’t have to wonder too much if they have confidence in the pro scouting department to find help again in 2012. For all of the fans wanting the Cowboys to sign a veteran wide receiver like Plaxico Burress or at least Patrick Crayton, I’d say the team is being patient when it comes to the receiver group. And remember the money. Robinson signed for the minimum salary benefit last year before blowing up as the No. 3 receiver. The Cowboys didn’t look for a veteran last year at wide receiver, and their decisions to look into Josh Gordon and Dezmon Briscoe seems to indicate they will do the same this year.

* I wonder why there is not more concern over the foot injury of nose tackle Jay Ratliff. He was not able to take part in any on-field football work during the offseason because of plantar fasciitis and he can only go through the walkthrough practices early in camp. The Cowboys don’t want Ratliff to aggravate the injury in camp, but this is something that has been problematic for at least three months. While a difficult nose tackle to block because of how active he is, he needs his feet to help with leverage. Without leverage Ratliff is just another guy. And let’s not forget that his sack total has decreased in each of the last four seasons from 7.5 to six to 3.5 to two.

* I wonder if Saalim Hakim can get into this wide receiver mix. I cannot believe I typed that after the performance Hakim put forward in the rookie minicamp after the draft, because as a receiver he showed a remarkable ability to not catch the ball. But now Hakim, who is the younger brother of Az-Zahir Hakim, the former St. Louis wideout from the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf days, is in much better shape and is catching the football. Hakim made his way on to the Cowboys’ radar with his work on special teams for Jim Fassel in the UFL. Hakim’s speed should make him a factor on special teams here, but he had an eye-popping run after catch on Monday that had one defender groan, "That (expletive) is fast." It was almost as if Hakim glided above the ground as he sped down the sideline.

Slow start doesn't faze Chris Jones

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
3:50
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OXNARD, Calif. -- Chris Jones knows more people are watching him this year as he gets the chance to take over for Mat McBriar as the Cowboys punter.

“I wouldn’t say I feel the pressure,” Jones said, “but then again I guess it’s a mental thing.”

After a shaky debut in Monday’s practice, Jones could especially feel those eyes. Coach Jason Garrett said Jones hit “some squirrely ones,” and Jones knows he needs to be better.

Jones, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt in two games as McBriar’s replacement in 2011, kicked a few times before the team flew out for California, but he had not been in front of a live rush since the June minicamp.

“(Monday) was a little rough, but having the rush in front of you, I was fast,” Jones said. “I was kind of rushing a little bit. But I still feel confident back there and I think today will be a lot better.”

The Cowboys elected not to re-sign McBriar after a workout last week, which gives Jones a leg up to win the job this summer. He was with the team in training camp in San Antonio last summer but mostly as an extra leg to make sure McBriar did not work too much.

“He certainly has the capability to kick the ball in this league,” Garrett said. “You see a live leg and the ball jumps off his foot, but at the same time it’s just consistency week in and week out.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Mat McBriar is not a Cowboy because of $300,000.

Philadelphia gave the two-time Pro Bowl punter a $150,000 signing bonus and guaranteed $150,000 of his $875,000 base salary. He can also earn more through incentives.

“He had a real nice workout for us and obviously Mat has done a lot of great things for the Dallas Cowboys with his career here,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “What we wanted out of that situation was a competitive situation and we didn’t want to get into a contract that pretty much had it where he’d be on the roster regardless. And the money got there in terms of how we looked at it, that it was pretty much guaranteeing him a spot on the roster. We wanted it to be a competitive situation.”

McBriar worked out for the Cowboys last Tuesday at Valley Ranch, a day after working out for the Eagles.

McBriar admittedly is not all the way back from a nerve condition that cost him two games last year and required offseason surgery. The Cowboys believe in Chris Jones, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt in McBriar’s absence last year, and also have Delbert Alvarado in camp.

A healthy McBriar is among the best punters in the league and has bailed the team out of trouble on numerous occasions either in pinning opponents deep or getting the defense favorable field position. The Cowboys have to hope that $300,000 does not come back to bite them.

Mat McBriar joins Eagles

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
6:19
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys will see Mat McBriar punt in 2012, but only twice in the regular season as the two-time Pro Bowler agreed to a deal with Philadelphia.

McBriar worked out for the Eagles on Monday and the Cowboys on Tuesday but was unable to come to terms with Dallas, where he had spent his first eight seasons. The Cowboys had the cap room necessary to keep McBriar, but the Eagles offered a better deal.

McBriar joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2003 and was the team’s full-time punter from 2004-11. He is the franchise’s leader in gross (45.3) and net averages (38.1) as well as most punts inside the opponents’ 20 (175).

He averaged 43.8 yards per punt in 14 games in 2011 but was hampered for most of the year with a nerve issue that affected his left foot. He had surgery in February to remove a cyst below his left knee and has been punting for the last six weeks in San Diego. McBriar started punting six weeks ago in San Diego and believed he would be at his best when the season began.

Chris Jones, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt as McBriar’s replacement last season, will go into training camp as the team’s top punter. The Cowboys also have Delbert Alvarado on the roster.

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