Turk may hit rugby-style punts in spots

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
4:11
PM ET
Matt Turk has punted 16 times through three games. He’s got five touchbacks and only three punts pinned inside the 20.

Jack Del Rio talked after a bad game in Carolina, where Turk dropped one snap in the rain and lost the Jaguars' possession, about the need to better work out of the punt team.

Part of it will come in the form of lower, turning, rugby-style kicks, special teams coach Russ Purnell told Jacksonville reporters Thursday. Purnell used that style once his unit crossed midfield with Hunter Smith in Indianapolis and with Adam Podlesh in Jacksonville. Podlesh went to Chicago as a free agent and the Jaguars signed Turk.

Said Purnell:
“I just think you have a bigger margin of error in there, as far as you’re not going to hit the ball too hard. Very, very seldom are you going to hit the ball too hard. When the ball hits the ground you’re going to get more balls that pop straight up or back up, like a wedge shot on the green. You eliminate that ball carrying into the end zone. You only kick that rugby style punt about 40-45 yards. If you hit a good punt it’s going to go 50 yards. If the wind carries it and it’s two yards deep in the end zone, they’re on the 20 instead of the 10 or 12 or inside the 10.”

Turk’s worked to gain a comfort level with the new approach, and Purnell indicated we could see it used against the Saints on Sunday at EverBank Field.

Really long isn’t always really good, when you’ve got 20 yards of wiggle room with a touchback in play.

“He tries to say, ‘I only want to punt this ball 40 yards and I’m going to swing nice and easy,’ and he hits the sweet spot on that ball and it goes 50 yards instead of 40 yards,” Purnell said, painting out a scenario in golf terms. “Whereas if you’re rugby style and you’re getting that end over end, it just can’t travel as far. I think you’ve got a bigger margin for error where you can control your distance much better. You can kind of eliminate the really long punt.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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