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Lonie Took the Long Road to Redskins

If you searched the Redskins' roster for potential decathletes, you might choose versatile players like Antwaan Randle El or Clinton Portis or maybe Sean Taylor. You probably wouldn't choose a punter.

But when the Redskins signed Aussie rookie punter David Lonie on May 3, the team also acquired a former decathlete and pole vaulter who competed in the Pan Pacific Games in 1996 in Perth, Australia.

A question comes to mind: Can Lonie's experience as a decathlete aid him as a punter in the NFL?

"Well, being an athlete in general will help," Lonie replied. "The fact that I've played a lot of different sports and I've picked them up quickly will help. I hadn't [punted] much until about four years ago, and then when I did, I picked it up quickly. Being a well-conditioned athlete helps you do that."

For now, Lonie is expected to compete for the Redskins' punting job with third-year veteran Derrick Frost, who was the team's punter most of last season.

Both Frost and Lonie have experience kicking off as well. Whoever wins the punting job could play a key special teams role next season--should coaches decide to limit kicker John Hall to field goals, that is.

Lonie, a 6-6, 220-pounder, played his college ball at Cal the last four years. Last season for the Golden Bears, Lonie recorded 61 punts for a 41.9-yard average. In 2004, he had 47 punts for a 40.0-yard average.

Lonie's road to the NFL has been far different from most players. He starred in several sports--including soccer and water polo--in his hometown of Palm Beach, Australia, before coming to the United States in 1999 for a job as a water ski instructor in Wisconsin.

From 2000-01, Lonie played semi-pro soccer in England the next two years before attending Ellsworth Junior College in Iowa.

He worked with some former NFL kickers and recruiters from major college programs took notice of his booming kicks and leg strength. He quickly became one of the most sought-after punters in the nation and eventually chose Cal in spring 2004.

Two years later, Lonie finds himself in Washington.

"I'm used to moving around, so it's not that much of a difference for me," he said. "Being Australian, I've had to travel a lot. So coming out here from Cal wasn't that big of an adjustment. I feel pretty comfortable with the move."

As an undrafted rookie free agent, Lonie chose the Redskins because he believes an opportunity exists for the team's punting job. Frost has been with the team for one season and certainly has the advantage of experience over Lonie, but it does not appear Frost has solidified the job long-term.

Lonie got his first taste of NFL action at the Rookie Camp on May 5-7. He is also on hand for Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, working with Hall, Frost and long snapper Ethan Albright in sessions every morning.

"It's an awesome experience to be here," Lonie said. "It's great to get an idea of what the coaches are looking for. [Special teams coordinator] Danny Smith has already shown me a lot of things I need to work on in punts and kickoffs.

"Basically, I just need to work hard and be consistent. I'm going to continue to grow and learn and try to win the job."

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