The NFL off-season is still young as we continue to roll through contact-free Organized Team Activities. That doesn't mean the competition isn't starting to heat up yet, though. In the case of the most unsettled and controversial position battle on the roster, this is especially true. We're talking about
quarterbacks the punter battle, of course!
Joking aside, the punter competition is definitely worth keeping an eye on. Some of you may think it's silly, and it's fair to think that. "It's just the punter," you say. "Why is this Brandon Lee guy even wasting time on this? WHO CARES?!"
Well I'm putting my foot down (the first of many bad punter puns) and taking a stand. It feels like it's been way too long since the Eagles have had a good punter. It probably doesn't mean too much in the big picture, but I'm tired of having to settle for subpar punting, and you should be too.
Thankfully things are looking up. After dabbling afoot in the noodle-armed Chas Henry and armpit-punter Mat McBriar experiments last year, it was clear the Eagles needed an upgrade. The Eagles pulled the strings to bring in PFF's number 1 overall rated P from 2012... Donnie Jones, formerly of the Houston Texans. Jones was also named to the All-Pro second team in both 2008 and 2009.
It didn't stop there though. Along came the addition of undrafted free agent Brad Wing, an Australian born punter who attended LSU. Wing is an interesting character, as BGN community member SouthernPhilly already pointed out.
According to Adam Caplan, I'm not alone in thinking this is an interesting battle. I'll paraphrase what he (and Dave Spadaro) had to say on a recent interview on the Eagles website (go to 6:00).
Donnie Jones is kicking the crap out of the ball. Jones' hangtime is absolutely terrific.
[Brad] Wing is not that good with [hangtime], and you need to have that [in the NFL].
[With] directional punting, Jones is very, very good. Wing needs to get better at that.
We're not handing this thing to Wing. It will be an excellent competition.
Nothing here is too surprising. Jones, 32, is a veteran who's had many years to perfect his craft. Wing obviously doesn't have the same kind of experience. In theory, it would be ideal if Wing performs well and wins the job because the Eagles could have some stability at the position for years to come. If not, though, no big deal. Jones sure isn't a bad option for now.
Other factors will go into the competition such as holding for PAT attempts. As far as I'm aware they're both qualified there. I do wonder if athleticism will factor into the decision based on Chip's potential use of the swinging gate PAT formation. Punting performance is first and foremost though.
Here's the kicker (err, the punter?) - as we all know, none of this matters too much right now. The job will be fought for and won in training camp and pre-season. I'm sure Jones and Wing are prepared to leave blood, sweat, and tears out there on the field to determine who will be The One True Philadelphia Eagles Punter.
So there you have it. Almost 600 words on the Eagles punter competition.
Training camp sure can't get here soon enough.
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