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Matt Jones unsure about his future but knows what he needs to improve

Matt Jones unsure about his future but knows what he needs to improve

After skipping voluntary OTAs over the last three weeks, Redskins third-year running back Matt Jones took the field Tuesday with his teammates for mandatory minicamp. 

Nobody that saw Jones would suggest he looked out of shape. In fact, Jones looked the same as he did last season, an impressive physical running back with a penchant for fumbling.

Working with the second and third-teams, Jones showed good hands and speed going through offensive drills. He also had a fumble during team drills that drew the ire of running backs coach Randy Jordan.

Jones lost the starting running back job last season largely as a result of fumbles, and the young runner knows he needs to get better.

"It's just about ball security. Ball security is job security," he said. "That's something I gotta correct and something that must be correct if I want to stay in this league."

At 6-foot-2, Jones stands taller than most NFL running backs. He runs high too, something that many coaches preach against. This offseason, Jones worked with former Redskins Super Bowl winner Ernest Byner about staying low and holding onto the ball. 

MORE REDSKINS: JORDAN REED STANDS OUT AT MINICAMP

"It's about leverage, too. The way I'm built I'm not so low to the ground," Jones said. 

He's working hard for a future in the NFL, though it seems like that won't be with Washington. 

"It's not a secret anymore, it's all out there. I was just feeling it could be my last time so I come out here with the guys and get it in and it might be my last rep. Who knows? I'm gonna take this rep seriously and I'm gonna do what I gotta do," Jones said. "As far as my career is headed I don't know where I could land. I don't know what could happen in this period of time so I'm just putting my head down, grinding, getting back to work. Every time I wake up I'm expecting to grind."

After the fumbles, much of Jones' demise last season was attributed to an unwillingness to play special teams. On Tuesday, Jones said he would play specials if his name was called. 

"Didnt play it too much in college, didnt play it too much when I was here," Jones exlained about special teams. "If I'm required to, if my name is on that list, I only got one choice and that's to do it."

As for his refusal to play specials last season, Jones said that wasn't the case.

"I have no idea with that. I really can't answer that question for you. I could have played it but it wasn't my decision," he said. 

Jay Gruden understands Jones' situation, and he said that after practice the best way to get back on the field is to compete. The coach allowed that with Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson locked in at the top, and Mack Brown and rookie Samaje Perine looking like roster fits, a spot for Jones seems tight. 

"It's really a tough position to crack but I wouldn't put anything past Matt," Gruden said (full video above).

Listening to Jones talk about 2016, the story sounds a bit sad. 

"I had a great camp, good preseason games, good start of the season," he said. "Just kinda went south. Nothing else to say about it, just went south."

Thanks to a rule change this offseason, NFL rosters can stay at 90 men much deeper into the preseason. That means there is no hurry for the Redskins to make a move with Jones. Whether that would be a trade or a release remains to be seen. What seems more and more certain, especially after listening to Jones, is that his future isn't with in Washington. 

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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USA Today Sports

Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium. 

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