Former Alabama prep star on the NFL All-Rookie Team

After being voted the NFL’s top punter by The Associated Press and Pro Football Writers of America during the 2022 season, it’s no surprise that New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones was the all-rookie team’s punt return this season is.

The PFWA released its annual all-rookie selection on Tuesday, and the former Enterprise high school standout and Troy was the only player from an Alabama high school or college to receive recognition.

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Jones led the NFL with 362 punt return yards and an average of 12.5 yards per return (among players with at least 21 punt returns in 2022). He also had one of the NFL’s three punt return touchdowns in the 2022 season.

On defense, Jones played 370 snaps in New England secondary and intercepted two passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Jones also scored for the Patriots offense. With 18 snaps at wide receiver, he caught four passes for 78 yards and one touchdown.

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The PFWA selected New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner as NFL Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year and Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson as Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The all-rookie team included:

Quarterback: Brock Purdy, 49ers

Running backs: Tyler Allgeier, Falcons; Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks

Wide receivers: Chris Olave, Saints; Garrett Wilson, Jets

Tight end: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Titans

Center: Tyler Linderbaum, Ravens

· Guards: Zion Johnson, Chargers; Dylan Parham, Raiders

· Offensive tackles: Braxton Jones, Bears; Tyler Smith, Cowboys

· Defensemen: Jordan Davis, Eagles; Aidan Hutchinson, Lions; George Karlaftis, bosses; Kayvon Thibodeaux, Giants

· Linebackers: Devin Lloyd, Jaguars; Malcolm Rodriguez, Lions; Quay Walker, Packer

Cornerbacks: Sauce Gardner, Jets; Tariq Woolen, Seahawks

· Collateral: Kyle Hamilton, Ravens; Jalen Pitre, Texan

· Kickers: Cameron Dicker, Chargers

· Punter: Ryan Stonehouse, Titans

· Kickoff returnees: Dallis Flowers, Colts

· Punt Returns: Marcus Jones, Patriots

· Special Teamers: Brenden Schooler, Patriots

At Enterprise, Jones earned ASWA First Team All-State honors in 2016 when he returned five pass interceptions, three punts, a kickoff, and a fumble recovery for touchdowns, and also caught a TD pass.

Last season at Houston, Jones recorded 47 tackles, intercepted two passes, ran 15 kickoffs for an average of 34.0 yards and two touchdowns, returned 26 punts for an average of 14.4 yards and two touchdowns, and caught 10 Passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

The Associated Press selected Jones as a first-team All-American cornerback, and he received matching All-American recognition in the all-purpose/return specialist slot. Jones’ versatile performance earned him the 2021 Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player.

Between Enterprise and Houston, Jones played two seasons at Troy. He was the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year in 2017 when he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.

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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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