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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Jones' Leg A Strength for Rams

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/21/2008

    When Donnie Jones last visited Seattle, he drilled an 80-yard punt, the longest of his five-year NFL career, in the Rams' 33-6 loss. After the long flight home, he hustled to the hospital where his wife, Aubrie, was about to give birth to their first child.

    "I spent the night there on a very uncomfortable pull-out bed," Jones said. Weston Jones was born at 4:16 the next afternoon.

    In military time, that would be 1616. "We thought that was interesting," Jones said, explaining that the youngster was conceived at 1616 Passion Vine Circle, where they lived in Miami.

    Happenstance has intervened before in Jones' life:

    — He didn't get a chance to punt until his junior year of high school, and only after a senior abruptly quit the team.

    — Another member of that squad at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La., was Travis Minor, a current Rams teammate and fellow special-teams stalwart.

    — Jones' beloved Louisiana State refused to offer him a scholarship until it learned that Ohio State and Oklahoma were after the hometown star.

    — He left the Dolphins after a bitter spat with a member of former LSU coach Nick Saban's staff there and wound up with the Rams last year. "I said a prayer, I was so thankful," said Jones, who promptly cobbled together his best season as a pro.

    Jones averaged 47.2 yards on 48 punts, toppling Danny Villanueva's 45-year-old Rams record (45.5). His 56.0 average on four punts Oct. 7 vs. Arizona is a single-game team mark, and his 80-yard bomb was the longest for the Rams since Bob Waterfield launched an 86-yarder in 1947.

    The good news for the Rams — who at 0-2 really need some — is that Jones is doing even better as the team returns to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Sunday.

    His 51.2-yard average — on a league-high 16 punts — is No. 1 in the NFL. The record for a season is 51.4, set by Washington's Sammy Baugh in 1940.

    Jones also saved a touchdown in the opener at Philadelphia, dragging down DeSean Jackson after a 60-yard return. "I wasn't going to let him score," said Jones, who picked up a nasty bruise on his right (nonkicking) knee making the tackle.

    Al Roberts, the Rams' special-teams coach, said Jones' breakout is no surprise. "Donnie has always had a big left leg, and he's maturing mentally," Roberts said.

    That Jones uses his left leg is a puzzle that even he can't explain.

    "I do everything righthanded — throw, eat, golf, everything," he said. But punting lefty "always felt natural," Jones added. "My dad always said, 'Son, you're righthanded; why are you trying to kick with your left foot?' He tried to get me to kick with my other foot, and I was like, 'I can't do it that way.'"

    Jones averaged 42.0 yards per punt at LSU, second-best in school history, and was drafted by the Seahawks in the seventh round in 2004. He married Aubrie, his college sweetheart, in '05.

    "I wanted to be established before I got married so I could be sure I could support a family," Jones said. "So we waited until after my first year, got married, then went back up to Seattle ... and I got cut."

    The Dolphins signed him as a free agent, and he put together a solid season. But when his numbers dipped a bit in 2006, he began to butt heads with Steve Hoffman, Miami's assistant special-teams coach.

    "He really belittled me," Jones recalled. "It was even to the point where he would bring me into his office and show me film of college punters at the (NFL scouting) combine, telling me this is what I need to do."

    After the surprise cut in Seattle and the unhappy split in Miami, Jones and family have found peace and prosperity here — the Rams signed him to a five-year, $5.9 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent that the Dolphins declined to match.

    "He's had a lot of opportunities in the first two games, and he's punted great for us," coach Scott Linehan said. "That's been a real strength, and we have to keep it that way."


  2. #2
    dgr828's Avatar
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    Re: Jones' Leg A Strength for Rams

    You know you're a bad team when your Punter is the MVP. Donnie Jones is having another great season, but failing to advantage of the good field position he provides wastes his efforts.
    The less we see of Donnie Jones is a good thing.
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  3. #3
    btimsah Guest

    Re: Jones' Leg A Strength for Rams

    Our running back, kicker and punter are good. What about anyone else?

  4. #4
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    Re: Jones' Leg A Strength for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by btimsah View Post
    Our running back, kicker and punter are good. What about anyone else?
    I would prefer to see more of our running back and kicker, and alot less of our punter. All the Rams are good, they just have a funny way of showing it!
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  5. #5
    skelley Guest

    Re: Jones' Leg A Strength for Rams

    How sad must your team be to have an article wrote up on the punter?!?!

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