New England Patriots Rookie Marcus Jones Named First-Team All-Pro Punt Returner

January 13, 2023


Marcus Jones has finished his rookie year with the New England Patriots as a first-team All-Pro punt returner.

The former transfer from Troy to Houston received 47 of the 50 first-place votes at the position, the Associated Press announced Friday. Kalif Raymond of the Detroit Lions and Devin Duvernay of the Baltimore Ravens accounted for the remainder from the panel.

Despite not returning his initial punt of the season until October, Jones went on to lead the NFL with 362 yards in that phase. He did so while averaging 12.5 yards per return through 29 chances, including a game-winning touchdown from 84 yards away in the closing seconds against the New York Jets in November.

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AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors followed. In all, so did a handful of punts taken back for 20-plus yards.

The consensus All-American and Paul Hornung Award winner had closed out his run from the Sun Belt Conference to the American Athletic Conference tied for the NCAA record with nine combined touchdowns between punts and kickoffs. Not long after arriving in the draft’s third round at pick No. 85 overall, he would also visit the end zone as a past wide receiver and present cornerback.

“So, special teams, defense and now on offense,” Patriots receivers and returners coach Troy Brown told reporters of Jones’ versatility last month. “He’s good running with the ball in his hands. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s strong and he’s tough. And the most important thing is he has a great attitude about playing football. He’s a guy that wants to be out there, wants to be involved and he wants to help.”

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Jones, 24, saw his first NFL offensive down on a screen pass that became a 48-yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills to begin December. And on Christmas Eve against the quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, his second career interception became a 69-yard touchdown.

There were 18 snaps on offense, 370 snaps on defense and 164 snaps on special teams played by year’s end while carrying base salary of $705,000 and cap number of $941,000.

In 2020, Gunner Olszewski marked the last Patriots player to be named an first-team All-Pro punt returner. The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jones now marks the lone member of the organization’s 2022 roster to reside on the either AP team. He also drew consideration as a kickoff returner, where a long of 46 yards was notched while averaging 23.9 yards per.

Mike Onwenu landed third among the NFL’s right guards while reigning Pro Bowler Matthew Judon landed sixth among the league’s edge defenders. Garnering additional votes for New England were safeties Kyle Dugger and Devin McCourty as well as core special-teamers Matthew Slater and Brenden Schooler.

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