Updated at 7:46 p.m.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Eagles’ most competitive roster battle might now be at punter after they signed veteran Mat McBriar to a one-year contract on Wednesday. McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowler with the 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,” 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. He’s going to come out and compete and make it a battle.”
Reid said McBriar is “90 percent” recovered from a nerve condition called “drop foot” that hindered him last season. The condition resulted from a cyst that impeded the nerve. 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 was eventually placed on injured reserve at the end of the season.
“Last year was difficult,” McBriar said. “It was tough to deal with. Before the surgery, I had a lot of nerve plan. 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 realized. 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’s “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 2004-2011. He was an 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 signed with the team on Sunday.