Mat McBriar needs surgery on cyst

IRVING, Texas -- Mat McBriar will have surgery next week to dissolve a cyst below his left knee, and the Dallas Cowboys punter anticipates being 100 percent this summer.

"For me, that's great news," McBriar said. "Yeah, it's terrible timing, but this is probably just a little bit more than just being able to play, but having a functional foot for the rest of my life."

McBriar was diagnosed with drop foot during the season, believed to be caused by nerve damage, but after a three-day visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., last week he was diagnosed with an intraneural ganglion cyst below his left knee.

The cyst is inside a nerve, McBriar said, adding that the doctors will remove an auxiliary joint that had been feeding the cyst "so it's a little bit like a balloon that loses its air and goes away," he said.

McBriar said he will be limited in his rehab for about a month and then will have to wait for the nerve to regenerate again.

McBriar's leg started bothering him prior to Dallas' Oct. 23 game against St. Louis. He did not kick the following week against Philadelphia. He punted in the next six games, and then the Cowboys placed him on injured reserve before the season finale at the New York Giants.

McBriar, who will be an unrestricted free agent in March, averaged 43.1 yards per punt with a 36.1-yard net average, which was his lowest since his rookie season. Coach Jason Garrett praised McBriar's toughness last week for continuing to play at less than full strength.

"The whole thing has been badly timed, but at least now I can move forward, whereas when I had my nerve conduction test I took for the second time at the end of the season and there was no improvement whatsoever from the first time I took the test in October," McBriar said. "That was hard because it wasn't getter better. At least now I know why, and in fact it was getting worse. So now they can go in there and this doctor has had a great deal of success with this surgery."

He hopes to remain with the Cowboys.

"It's never sort of crossed my mind that I'd end up playing somewhere else," said McBriar, who joined the Cowboys' practice squad in 2003. "I'd love to finish my career as being a one-team player. In this day and age that doesn't happen a lot, but to me that would mean something. Ideally I'd like to finish my career here."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.