Rookie running back Matt Jones had a hot start to the season, with 151 yard rushing in his first two games including a 39-yard run in Week 2 in which he displayed an impressive blend of speed and power.
But he hit his rookie wall early. Since those first two games he has averaged 30.8 yards rushing per game and has no more than 62 yards rushing in any one game.
It’s not like he has totally disappeared from the offense. He had a big game against the Saints, going 78 yards with a screen pass for a touchdown and caught two more passes for 29 and 24 yards. Against the Giants he rolled 45 yards with a screen pass to set up second-quarter touchdown.
But steadiness and consistency have eluded the rookie. Jay Gruden believes it’s a matter of concentration.
“Yeah, he’s got to hone in there, be more focused – the false start penalty and he almost missed a big blitz pickup that luckily Kirk got away to [Jamison] Crowder in the flat,” said Gruden. “He’s working hard. He’s a rookie, he’s going to make some mistakes. We have to limit those mistakes.”
To his credit, Jones has made progress in one area. In the first 10 games, he fumbled the ball four times and the opponents recovered all four of them. He has not fumbled in the last four games.
But Gruden went on, perhaps sending a message to Jones that there are alternatives on the roster if he can't clean up his game.
“Luckily for us we have three, four good backs now that are all playing pretty well. Chris Thompson could be healthy next week and obviously Pierre [Thomas] is learning and learning. Obviously Alfred [Morris] had a big game yesterday. I think for being a rookie I think he’s been a pretty good football player – smart, too. His mistakes haven’t been that often. He’s had a few, as everybody has, but I think he’s done OK."
With Morris likely to leave as a free agent after the season is over there could be a big opportunity for Jones. But he needs to reduce the errors his game if they are going to trust him with a major role.
NFL players took to Twitter on Saturday to send well-wishes to Andrew Luck after news broke that he is retiring from the NFL.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Luck was 'mentally worn out' after years of battling injuries. Luck confirmed the news in an emotional press conference on Saturday night.
"Andrew luck I understand you 100% brotha," wrote Dez Bryant. "... take your time ... I wish you the best."
Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins reacted to the news with emojis.
Former player turned ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho posted video of Colts fans booing Luck as he walked into the locker room. "Coach always said, 'the pats on the back eventually turn into stabs,'" he wrote.
"That's bad to boo that man," added former Redskins player Chris Baker.
Former Ravens and current Carolina player Torrey Smith tweeted that anyone in the sport understands.
Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton wrote he was "shook."
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Jordan Reed took a major blow to the head in the Redskins third preseason game in Atlanta, and the blow eventually landed Washington's stud tight end in the NFL's concussion protocol.
Falcons safety Keanu Neal delivered the hit, and while it was clearly illegal and resulted in a penalty on the field, he took to Twitter to defend his play.
It's hard to judge intent under the incredible speed that plays happen during pro football. When a player goes in for a tackle, ball carriers can also move, and plays that look dirty in slow motion can look reasonable in full speed. Still, it's undeniable that Reed took a major shot in the helmet from Neal, and it definitely seemed unnecessary. And it's not a secret that Reed has dealt with serious head injuries throughout his NFL career.
There has been no update on Reed's condition beyond that he's in the NFL concussion protocol. Reed also stayed in the game after the big hit from Neal before his concussion symptoms showed up at halftime.
Neal is a fifth-year safety out of the University of Florida. He missed most of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. Reed also attended the University of Florida.
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