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Roster Rundown: Jones Solid, But Needs Consistency


*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features punter Chris Jones.)*

Name: Chris Jones
Position: Punter
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 197
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Carson Newman

Key stat:Ranked 19th in the NFL in punting average at 45.0 yards per attempt and 20th with a 39.1 yard net average.

Contract Status:Signed through 2014 (after signing 1-year extension on March 10).

2013 Impact: Jones was somewhere right in the middle of NFL punters in most major categories in his first season as the full-time punter after taking back over Brian Moorman's duties from the year prior. The Cowboys clearly hope he can build on those 16 games from 2013, as Jones signed his exclusive rights tender to stay on for another season. Jones' rankings of 19th in punting average and 20th in net average both ranked better than Moorman from the year prior, and Jones ranked in the top 10 in pinning teams inside the 20, but he could still fix his consistency from game to game. He's demonstrated the potential, but he's also had his down games, including a net average of less than 30 yards in two of his final three games of the year. [embedded_ad]

Where He Fits: He'll get another chance to be the Cowboys' go-to guy in 2014 and earn a more long-term contract, but he'll have to separate himself from the middle of the pack of NFL punters. Staying healthy will go a long way in that. The only reason Jones wasn't the full-time punter in 2012 was because of a knee injury that put him on injured reserve. He should have the power back in his leg now, and after his first full season as a full-time starter, he has more experience and should be ready to take the next step. The Cowboys could bring in some competition for Jones, but the punter job is his as long as he stays the course. He was solid but not stellar in 2013, and he's got just one more year to prove he's the long-term answer as the Cowboys punter.

Writers' Analysis:

Nick Eatman: Judging from the stats, Jones was slightly below average, ranking 19th and 20th in the two key categories for punters – punting average and net average. Considering the fact the Cowboys' longest punt return against them in 2013 was just 26 yards, you might've thought the net average would and should be higher. Jones wasn't awful by any means, but there did seem to be too many times where he doesn't provide the most-needed punt. If the ball is at midfield and you want it downed or fair caught inside the 10, it would be the 15 or maybe even a touchback. Or if he's pinned back and you need that 60-yard boomer, it only goes 44. The one thing Jones does extremely well is angling punts, but yet still keeps relatively good distance. Out of 77 attempts last year, only two went out of bounds – meaning he avoids the shank-punt for the most part. Jones is a good punter that should get even better. But I still think the Cowboys will give him serious competition this offseason and training camp.

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