Player Diary: Tyler Jones

Lake Forest - Life can become more than a little unpredictable when you're a kicker in the National Football League. A case in point: newly re-signed Bears kicker Tyler Jones.

Jones first joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent on April 29. Although at the time he was ‘supremely disappointed' not to have been chosen during the draft, Jones was grateful for the opportunity to show coaches what he could do.

Unfortunately for the young rookie from Idaho State, the team waived him on June 28. Although at that time he was told that the Bears had been quite impressed by his leg strength, it was still more than a little discouraging to have been cut.

Jones wasn't out of football for long as he was claimed by the Browns two days later. He tasted some success in Cleveland, recording six points including a 41-yard game winning field goal in the Browns' preseason opener against the New York Giants.

But Jones' travels throughout the league still hadn't come to an end as the Browns waived him on August 30. After more than a month of working out on his own and traveling to various teams for tryouts, Jones found himself once again sitting in front of a locker at Halas Hall. Here's his view of his recent journeys:

Coming back to Lake Forest, I found myself relaxing at last. I had a huge sigh of relief when my agent called me to say that the Bears had contacted him. I think that every player expects to be here and there around the league at some point, but to come and go like that so early on in my career was hard psychologically.

How did I cope? I kept working on my game and put in a few calls to my agent. The most important thing is never to lose hope. I felt that I had done quite well while with the Bears earlier this year. I also had some good film from the two months in Cleveland to show to the various teams who were interested in me. It always seemed that it would just be a matter of time and I'd be back kicking somewhere. That somewhere happened to be Chicago, which is very good luck.

Players trying to break into the league often live out of a suitcase, but in this instance, I guess I never really had much of a chance to unpack and settle down. My home is in Idaho but I've hardly been there of late. I'd travel to one city on a Monday and have a tryout, then leave the next day and head somewhere else. The following week would be the same thing all over again. If anyone called, I'd be on my way to their facility. At least I got some good frequent flier miles.

I feel very strong and very positive about things right now. I'm returning with a new attitude. I was confident in the past as far as my abilities and my skill level, but now I feel much stronger, much better prepared. Those few months of seasoning helped me develop into more of a complete player.

My role on the team remains to be defined. Right now I am on the practice squad. I really welcome the opportunity to work out with these guys in any capacity. I'd love to be part of the effort.

I know one of the first things I'll need to do is to go down to Soldier Field and get in some reps. From what I've heard, the wind conditions there can be really tricky. It's a learned skill to compensate for the weather conditions that occur with the stadium so close to the lake.

Right now, what I think I can bring to this team is leg strength. I spent most of my time with Cleveland on kickoffs. I'm able to go deep without any problem. I have confidence in my overall accuracy, but that's something I am always working on. Every kicker will tell you the same thing: there's no such thing as too many reps when you are playing this position. I am consistent right now, but I know I can get ever better.

I think that the Bears have a good chance against the Browns this weekend. Since I played with that team, quite a few of the players here have been asking me about their tendencies. I think I am able to give them pretty good information. One thing I mentioned right away is that Cleveland's stadium is like Soldier Field in so far as it can be tricky with the wind conditions.

I just arrived here and am still in the process of finding a place to stay but I hope that this will be my home for quite a while to come. It's been a strange journey that worked out well in the end. I was glad to join the Bears back in April, and I am even happier about it now.

The diary was a summary of an interview between Jones and Beth Gorr.


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