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Milwaukee Bombers arrow News arrow Club News arrow Aussie getting his kicks with Miami Dolphins
Aussie getting his kicks with Miami Dolphins
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He first punted a football only five years ago, and not very often for two years after that initial flirtation. He attended his first NFL game in 2007. He has never faced an angry, full-on rush in the pros or in college because, well, he didn't attend a college.

Meet Bond. Jy Bond.

Bond is a former Australian Rules football player trying to make the improbable switch to the NFL. He is the free agent punter the Dolphins have signed to compete with incumbent Brandon Fields.

Bond is the unlikely player trying to compete with the only player on the roster who had no competition in training camp last year.

Yes, Bond is an underdog and a long shot to win this competition against Fields. But that doesn't seem to faze the 23-year-old who was just as long a shot to get a free agent tryout, much less land a spot in an NFL training camp.

''Yeah, we were studying all the tapes of Australian Rules football games and found this guy,'' Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said with a straight face.

And then he smiled.

Bond came to Miami for a tryout weeks ago because special teams coach John Bonamego once coached Australian-born Nathan Chapman in Green Bay, Wis. Chapman has become something of a national punting guru back in Australia, and Bond was one of his pupils.

So Chapman called Bonamego, who set up a tryout for Bond. After spending about 30 hours on flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles and then to South Florida, Bond got his opportunity in front of Ireland and other Dolphins brass a few weeks ago.

He boomed the first three punts he attempted.

Each kick boasted a five-second hang time.

''At that point I'm thinking, `OK, now you've got my attention,'' Ireland said.

WELCOME TO CAMP

At last weekend's rookie minicamp, Bond connected on a couple of 60-yarders. He also shanked a couple of punts, showing a need to improve his consistency -- which is to be expected of a man who fell into his sport relatively recently.

'About five years ago, my brother played baseball in Texas, and I was watching and spending time with him and having a kick in the background, and one of his coaches said, `Hey, mate, you're not too bad,' '' Bond said.

``I was kicking my Aussie Rules football around and then tried with the American football. And the passion started for me then.''

The passion went into hibernation for a couple of years, but Bond attended his firstNFL game in 2007. It was played in London, pitting the New York Giants against the Dolphins.

'It was something I was interested in already, but when I saw it in real life, I thought, `Yeah, this is something I can focus on,' '' Bond said. ``And now I've got a real opportunity to use the gifts I've been given and have a real go at it.''

It's not an easy assignment.

Bond lives ''with another bloke'' in an executive apartment the Dolphins assigned him. He hasn't seen his family in weeks and probably won't see them for quite some time if his Dolphins stint lasts as long as he hopes.

Bond also doesn't get to talk to the folks back home very often because when he is awake here, they are asleep on the other side of the world.

Bond really has no one to encourage him when he has a bad day and no one to celebrate with after good days. And yet he is thrilled to have this difficult, improbable, wonderful opportunity.

''I'm just thankful for the opportunity they've given me to try out and train and develop and get some really good coaching and work on my technique and hopefully develop and make the roster,'' he said.

``I'm lucky Miami has given me an excellent opportunity to work on my technique and iron out a few of the rough spots I had coming from a different sport and develop into an effective punter that will do a good job for the team.''

LEARNING CURVE

Bond said an NFL ball is much harder and narrower than an Aussie Rules ball. Consequently, the ''sweet spot'' is much smaller.

He also had to change his kicking style because in Aussie Rules football, an end-over-end kick is considered favorable.

In the NFL, that type of kick cuts down on distance and hang time.

''I've had to change my whole style,'' Bond said. ``But it's good, its fun, it's a challenge. I'm really enjoying it.''

Bond also is enjoying learning the game. He said he has been studying Miami's offensive and defensive playbooks so he understands what other players are supposed to be doing.

''I'm doing everything I can to become a better teammate and help this team in any way possible,'' Bond said.

``It's part of living the dream.''

By ARMANDO SALGUERO
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http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/football/story/1040588.html

 

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