Punter Donnie Jones took home the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award for the second straight game after he dropped a career-high and franchise-record seven punts inside the 20-yard line in last Sunday's win over Arizona. That total was just one shy of tying the NFL record.
Jones is second in the NFL with 29 punts inside the 20-yard line this season. Jones credits his success to a rugby-style kick which he unleashes in short-field situations. It's essentially an end-over-end kick and when it lands the backspin will keep it from rolling forward into the end zone. It's comparable to a golfer using backspin when chipping on a green. And since it is spinning end-over-end, the punt will never travel that far. Jones also credited the Eagles grounds team for Sunday's performance. He said the newly installed turf at Lincoln Financial Field kept the bounce of the ball to a minimum.
The ironic part about the rugby-style kick is that it's not always been a part of Jones' repertoire. He learned it prior to the 2012 season. His teacher was David Wing, a former Australian rules player who had a tryout with the Detroit Lions. Does the last name ring a bell? Wing's son, Brad, was Jones' competition in Training Camp this season. Jones honed the special craft in Baton Rouge, La. near LSU where both he and Brad Wing played in college. The elder Wing was reluctant at first to work with Jones since his son would soon be in the league.
"It took me a little while (to master it). I went to speak with him about how it worked in March 2012, and when I got into Training Camp with Houston, I still wasn't very comfortable with it," Jones said. "I did use it last year, but I feel a lot more confident with it this year. Maybe September of last year I started to feel OK with it.
"It's something that I work hard at, because every year it's hard to make it in this league. There is always somebody that wants your spot, so the more tools you can add to your tool box, the better chance you have of making it. That was my big thing - What can I do to improve my game? I'm still learning and I'm still getting better (at punting), 10 years in."
Jones can still boom the ball when necessary. He crushed a 69-yard punt against Arizona and a 70-yard vs. Washington.