Feature article on Mat McBriar

DMN = Dallas Morning-News

About what he was thinking after their loss to Arizona last season, Mat McBriar said:
“Crap, we just lost the game. Crap, I just got blocked for the first time. Then I looked at my foot. It was already starting to swell up, and I’m like, oh, that hurts.” (DMN)

DMN Note: “Nearly 10 months have passed since McBriar broke his right foot in the Cowboys overtime loss. This camp is about kicking off the rust and altering his booming approach to appease new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Hang time takes precedence over distance. McBriar will stand closer to the line of scrimmage and slightly off-center when he takes the snap this season.”

About how the Cowboys’ new special teams coach is emphasizing hang time for punts, McBriar said:
“Hang time is the big thing. I’ve always been a guy who loves direction. Sometimes I get them out there a little bit, and he doesn’t necessarily like that. He doesn’t want to stretch our coverage units too much. I’ve just got to learn, instead of looking down the field like I used to, I need to scale it back a little bit.” (DMN)

DMN Note: “Bill Parcells loved McBriar’s leg strength. The former Cowboys coach told him to kick the ball as far as he could. McBriar’s job was to punt. Parcells believed it was everyone else’s job to get to the ball.”

DMN Note: “The Cowboys special teams coach wants McBriar to get the ball up in the air and help the coverage team limit the return. Two subtle differences have been installed to get this accomplished. McBriar no longer lines up directly behind long snapper L.P. Ladouceur. He stands off-center to the side the Cowboys intend to punt, an adjustment designed to increase protection and give the Cowboys more lanes to get to the punt returner. McBriar also lines up 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage instead of 15. With fewer steps, the tendency is to put the ball up rather than out. The idea is to get the ball up, quicker and allow the punt return team to release into coverage, more quickly.” (DMN)

About how he has to stop kicking the ball too far, McBriar said:
“I’ve got to become a little more compact and learn to reel in the long ones, which is not always easy to do. Sometimes, my natural kick is a longer kick than higher kick.” (DMN)

DMN Note: “McBriar was averaging a career-high 49 yards a punt when he was hurt six games into last season. X-rays after the game revealed nothing. But the pain was so great that McBriar woke up in the middle of the night convinced, “I’d be better just cutting the whole foot off.” The extent of the injury was discovered a few hours later.”

Asked how things went when he started punting by the end of February after being in a cast for 2 months and a walking boot for 5 weeks after that, McBriar said:
“Not fantastic.” (DMN)

DMN Note: “The punter whose average of 48.2 yards in 2006 was the best in the NFL in 43 years struggled to get the ball to travel 10 to 15 yards in the air. It took him weeks before he could punt the ball 30 yards.”

About how McBriar has recovered from his injury, DeCamillis said:
“He’s in a pretty good groove. I think he’s back on course.” (DMN)



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