Rams welcome new punter

Acquired from Miami, St. Louis hopes Donnie Jones will solve the team’s problems
Friday, August 3, 2007 | 1:15 a.m. CDT; updated 12:32 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams needed some stability at the punter position, and Donnie Jones needed a fresh start.

Jones signed a five-year free-agent contract with St. Louis in April. He is expected to be the long-term answer to what has been a problem spot for the Rams.

“It’s great here, I love it,” Jones, 27, said. “It’s a real good working environment.”

Jones spent the past two seasons in Miami where he quietly developed into one of the best punters in the AFC. In 2005, he averaged 43.5 yards per kick, including a league-best net of 39.3. The left-footer also had a then-career high 63-yard punt in a 24-10 win over Tennessee on Dec. 24, 2005.

Jones decided to look elsewhere after an offseason clash of wills with new Dolphins assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman, who was hired in February.

Hoffman wanted Jones to change several aspects of his kicking style and Jones didn’t feel the need to make any drastic switches in his mechanics.

“This guy pretty much told me that I was no good,” Jones said.

In April, the Rams signed him to an offer sheet and the Dolphins did not match it. “I was happy,” he said “The last month I was (in Miami) was a pretty ugly one.”

Jones said he already feels appreciated in St. Louis, where the punter spot has been the source of frequent turnover.

Matt Turk, Kevin Stemke, Reggie Hodges, Mitch Berger and Sean Landeta (twice) have all held the position at one time or another over the past five seasons.

Jones was a seventh-round selection by the Seattle Seahawks after helping Louisiana State to the national championship in 2003.

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