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.
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"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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