Late last week, the Dallas Cowboys released the punter of the early portion of the offseason, Jake Rogers. This just happened to occur on the same day when the staple of the Cowboys punting game for the last eight seasons began kicking again as part of his post-surgery rehab. A "drop foot" condition due to nerve damage threatened to derail the career of Aussie punter Mat McBriar; however successful surgery appears to have him back on track to rejoin the NFL after having one of the most difficult years of his career in 2011.
Still, the Cowboys needed another kicker to compete with Chris Jones, returning to the squad from replacing McBriar last season. Today, they signed Delvert Alvarado to the 90 man roster. Alvarado tried out for the team during rookie minicamp, and was on the verge of signing a contract when Jake Rogers was released by Tampa Bay and the Cowboys chose Rogers over Alvarado. Most clubs will keep an additional punter and kicker on board during OTAs so that the competition leader doesn't wear himself out by having to handle all of the repetitions.
It would seem that the savvy McBriar camp is paying attention to all the comings and goings. After his wife tweeted that he had returned to kicking Friday, the NFL free agent gave Todd Archer of ESPN the scoop on his progress.
"Rusty," McBriar said of his first day punting, "but no issue with the foot really. It’s just getting back in the swing of things."
"Every couple of weeks it seems to be getting better, which is great," McBriar said, "but there’s still a little ways to go."
The Cowboys have two punters on the roster currently in Chris Jones, who punted in two games in 2011, and Delbert Alvarado. They are keeping tabs on McBriar’s rehab.
The Cowboys camp incumbent, Chris Jones, did not impress many during his preseason work last season. Now while net punting average is one of the worst indicators of punting ability because of a myriad of factors; the simple eye test tells us that he was a long ways away from what a healthy McBriar could do. Dallas will be looking for a lot more value from the position than what they reaped last season.
Fortunately, we are just talking about punters, though.