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Unable to overcome knee injury, Beriault to retire

Unable to overcome the severe knee injury he suffered last summer in training camp, Dallas Cowboys' second-year safety Justin Beriault will be forced to retire, coach Bill Parcells said on Monday.

The former Ball State safety, selected by the Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, was an early standout in training camp as a rookie, but injured his right knee in a July 31 practice session. Beriault underwent surgery to repair the medial and lateral meniscus cartilage in his right knee, but despite a solid rehabilitation attempt, was still bothered by the injury in camp this year.

Dallas coaches had hoped that Beriault, a physical presence in the middle of the secondary, would bolster the safety position and vie for meaningful playing time in 2006.

"There's really not much more we can do for him at this moment. There is nothing else that we could do. In fact, I have strongly [advised] him that he shouldn't play again."
Bill Parcells

"There's really not much more we can do for him at this moment," Parcells said. "There is nothing else that we could do. In fact, I have strongly [advised] him that he shouldn't play again."

Beriault, 24, appeared in 46 games during his college career and started all but one of them. He is one of just a handful of college defensive backs in the past decade to record over 100 tackles in all four seasons, and he finished his career with 508 tackles.

When the Cowboys drafted Beriault, and signed him to a three-year, $979,000 contract that included a signing bonus of $54,000, they envisioned him as a player who would first contribute on special teams and eventually challenge for a starting job. But in the opening days of camp last summer, Beriault demonstrated that he might force his way onto the field by making a number of big plays and by displaying the kind of hitting ability he showed in college.

It is believed that no player has returned to the playing field following the relatively radical procedure, known as an osteotomy, that Beriault underwent in an attempt to resume his career.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.