HOUSTON – The Houston Texans have signed unrestricted free agent P Donnie Jones, it was announced today. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Jones ranks fourth all-time among NFL punters with a 45.3-yard gross average and a 38.8 net average in eight NFL seasons. The former LSU punter was selected by Seattle in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He played in seven games with the Seahawks in 2004 before serving as the Miami Dolphins’ punter from 2005-06. Jones spent the last five seasons with the St. Louis Rams.
Jones’ 50.0 gross average in 2008 led the NFL and was the highest gross average since 1940 at the time. He owns two of the top nine single-season net punting averages in NFL history, ranking fourth with a 41.7 average in 2009 and ninth with a 41.1 average in 2008. Jones earned second team All-Pro recognition in 2008 and 2009 and has placed 198 of his 648 career punts inside the 20-yard line.
The Texans have waived running back Steve Slaton and signed running back to the active roster from their practice squad.
A third-round pick from West Virginia in 2008, Slaton was a rookie revelation with a franchise-record 1,282 rushing yards. He led the AFC with 1,659 yards from scrimmage that season, averaging a team-record 4.8 yards per carry and setting a team rookie record with 10 touchdowns.
In 2009, Slaton suffered a nerve injury in his neck that eventually caused him to lose feeling in the tips of the fingers in his right hand. The injury coincided with him averaging 3.3 yards per carry and fumbling seven times in 11 games before being placed on injured reserve. He had a C-5 cervical fusion operation in the offseason to repair the injury, then spent 2010 as the Texans’ third running back and part-time kick returner.
Slaton totaled seven carries for 20 yards this season before being let go. He finishes his Texans career ranked third in team history in rushing yards (1,832), second in attempts (425) and third in rushing touchdowns (12). He averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
Ogbonnaya was the Texans’ leading rusher in the preseason with 192 yards on 54 carries (3.6 average). He also had seven receptions for 77 yards. A Houston native who played at the University of Texas, he was a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2009.