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Donnie Jones: The Best Just Gets Better

Posted Oct 23, 2015

When looking at the Eagles’ punting records, one name shows up at the top of every category – Donnie Jones.

The punter holds the franchise record for career gross punting yards, with a 45.0 average, and career net punting yards, with a 40.0 average. Up until this year, his 2013 net yards numbers served as the best for an Eagles punter in a single season as well.

Now, his net average of 40.4 yards per punt that season has moved to second behind his 2015 stats. With a net average of 41.7 yards and a gross average of 47.9 yards per punt, Jones is working to set new records this season and make it his best yet as an Eagle.

“I know the last couple years were solid, but I really feel like this season has been off to a great start,” Jones said. “In 2013, we had a really good year as far as net goes. We netted over 40. This year I think we’re close to 42. That’s a testament to everybody.

“We’ve got two great coaches, Dave Fipp and Michael Clay. They do an outstanding job of preparing guys. We go out and train all week and it’s 11 guys executing. It starts with Jon (Dorenbos) giving me the snaps, the guys protecting inside, the gunners. It’s really a team effort. It’s me obviously doing my job too, giving good kicks. It’s really a testament to all those guys. Everyone is working hard.”

The punt coverage group has been vital to Jones each and every season. Special teams ace Trey Burton was quick to agree that the protection is a major factor in the successful punts this year, but Jones’ natural skill can’t be overlooked.

“He’s been killing the ball. He’s been doing really, really well,” said Burton. “It’s been a good year so far. It all starts with our protection, and we’ve done a pretty good job at protecting him and making him feel comfortable. He just booms it after that.”

In addition to his ability to drive the ball down field, Jones can also vary his punts depending on the returner. That gives the Eagles a huge advantage and makes the 12-year veteran an even more dynamic punter.

Teams can’t always predict where Jones is going to place the ball, which is something head coach Chip Kelly is thankful to have on his side.

“I think because we are varied and because Donnie can do that – not a lot of people can. I think that's what happens with Darren (Sproles) right now. You watch the Saints and the Giants, people try to kick away from him, but all of a sudden it changes the kick and we are gaining a lot (of hidden yards),” Kelly explained.

“It's probably a lot harder than people think, and that's why what Donnie is doing has really been very beneficial to us because he's been able to change it up.”

Jones explained that learning how to vary his punts is something he and Fipp have talked about at ends over the last few seasons. It allowed him to improve and become a bigger threat to opposing special teams’ coaches.

Although the veteran is already atop the franchise leader boards and holds records with numerous NFL organizations (Houston and St. Louis), he isn’t satisfied. He wants to continue to improve each season and build on what he has already accomplished throughout his career.

“I’d always been over the years just a guy that was always a pure power punter, a guy with a big leg. I think the more things you can add and change things up, the harder it is for returners to read you,” Jones said. “Those are just little things I can do to continue to get better. I think it doesn’t matter how long you play. You can always get better. For me entering Year 12, I’m not close to being finished. I want to play for a lot longer. It’s all about how you can continue to make yourself better.”

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