RICHMOND - With Alfred Morris playing his football in Dallas this season, the Redskins plan to give second-year man Matt Jones every opportunity to be the lead running back on a team that won the division last year. For his part, Jones recognizes how big of a chance he's got.
"I'm just going to take every opportunity I get and make the most of it," Jones said.
So far in camp, the Redskins certainly are using Jones as the top runner. He gets the first rep in individual drills, and running backs coach Randy Jordan is working with the former Florida Gator on what seems like every snap. Emphasizing body lean and ball control, Jordan watches intently as Jones works through drills.
Throughout the offseason, Jones has seemed like a different player than his rookie season.
"My approach was way different this offseason, as it should have been, just knowing I had an opportunity to compete for the starting role," he said.
Jones explained that he hired a personal trainer to work with all offseason, and in the last few weeks before camp, he came up to Ashburn to work out with Chris Baker's trainer.
"You can tell he worked extremely hard this summer," Redskins veteran left tackle Trent Williams said of Jones.
Adding a personal trainer isn't the only thing Jones changed, as he worked with a massage therapist and made changes with his food.
"I did change my diet," Jones said. "I ate pretty bad last year, fried chicken all the time."
The fried chicken had to go, Jones explained.
"Baked chicken for the most is my favorite now," he said. "Usually it's my personal trainer that sets it up for me."
Beyond the personal trainer and diet change, Jones said he learned a lot after his rookie year about taking care of his body.
"Learning some stuff from last year, you got to give your body some rest," he said. "And you got to know when and how to do things with your body."
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In a rookie season where he missed three games - and had less than 10 carries in five other games - the best news for the Redskins might be that Jones is now preparing for a long season. His stats for 2015 don't impress, particularly a 3.4 yards-per-carry average, but when Jones looked right, he showed tremendous potential. In a Week 2 win over the Rams, Jones put up nearly 150 all purpose yards with two touchdowns and averaged 6.47 YPC. In a Week 8 win over New Orleans, Jones posted 187 total yards with another TD.
The talent is there with Jones, and now with a more focused outlook and an offseason of better preparation, perhaps the Redskins run game can improve from 2015's poor performance. His teammates believe so.
"I truly believe this could be a breakout year," Williams said of Jones.