Patriots rookie Marcus Jones was named to the Associated Press All-Pro First Team as a punt returner on Friday. It is some well deserved recognition for New England’s dynamic rookie, especially after missing out on a Pro Bowl selection.
A slow offseason while recovering from shoulder surgeries limited Jones’ early usage, as Myles Bryant handled return duties to begin the season. Once Jones took over, he never looked back.
The rookie led the league with 362 punt return yards while his 12.5-yard average was tied for fifth in the league — although that mark was the highest average from any returner with over 20 punt returns. His highlight play came in Week 11 as he returned an essential walk-off touchdown against the New York Jets.
Marcus Jones: First-team All-Pro punt returner. pic.twitter.com/8aDj6BlVLq— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) January 13, 2023
Jones’ return skills were apparent since his college days, playing a large role in the Patriots selecting him 85th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. While at the University of Houston, Jones was awarded with the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. Jones now becomes the first player given the award to be named to an All-Pro team as a rookie and joins Christian McCaffrey as the only other recipient to make First-Team All-Pro.
This marks the second-time in three years a Patriots returner has been named First-Team All-Pro, as Gunner Olszewski received the honors back in 2020.
Jones was the only Patriots player to be named to either All-Pro team, but several others received votes: Michael Onwenu (3rd - guard), Matthew Slater (5th - special teams), Matthew Judon (6th - EDGE), and Kyle Dugger (t-12th - safety).