Jones re­joins team for mini­camp af­ter skip­ping OTAs

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

ASH­BURN | Matt Jones said Tues­day there was never a ques­tion in his mind whether he would show up to Red­skins Park for Wash­ing­ton’s manda­tory mini­camp. As long as he’s on the ros­ter, he was go­ing to be there.

But Jones ac­knowl­edged skip­ping the last few weeks of vol­un­tary OTAs was part of a plan worked out with his agent.

While the other Red­skins were run­ning through work­outs and drills, Jones was fig­ur­ing out his fu­ture.

The 2015 third-round pick, dogged by fum­bling prob­lems, lost his job as the starter last sea­son and the Red­skins fol­lowed up this spring by draft­ing Ok­la­homa run­ning back Sa­maje Per­ine in the fourth round — rais­ing more ques­tions about Jones‘ role on the team.

“I don’t think it was about lever­age,” Jones said. “It wasn’t no bat­tle with me, it was about see­ing where my fu­ture goes. I was just re­ally ready to train and be apart of a team and find a home.”

For now, Jones’ home is with the Red­skins. He spent Tues­day pri­mar­ily prac­tic­ing with the sec­ond and third units. Jones was back, along with tight end Jor­dan Reed and left tackle Trent Williams, both of whom also missed this spring’s or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties.

Un­like those two stars, how­ever, Jones is un­sure of his role with the Red­skins. There is a real pos­si­bil­ity he could be cut af­ter or dur­ing train­ing camp, given the team’s depth at run­ning back.

Starter Rob Kel­ley and third-down spe­cial­ist Chris Thomp­son take the ma­jor­ity of the snaps and Per­ine, Mack Brown and Keith Mar­shall are also op­tions.

Jones un­der­stand­ably wants his start­ing job back, but it’s an up­hill climb.

“It’s all com­pe­ti­tion,” Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said. “Guys who make plays and guys who are pro­duc­tive are guys that I like to play. It’s no se­cret. I’m just telling you it’s go­ing to be hard to move a guy (from start­ing) who has been here work­ing very hard and done such a good job, but it’s not im­pos­si­ble.”

Jones said he’s very con­fi­dent in his game, but it’s up to the coaches if he ever be­comes the starter again. The 24-yearold spent his time dur­ing OTAs in Tampa, Florida, work­ing at a per­for­mance com­pound with a per­sonal trainer.

Last year, Jones lost his job af­ter Week 7 and was in­ac­tive for the rest of the sea­son. Jones has fum­bled eight times in his two-year ca­reer, three of which were last sea­son. Of those eight, he’s lost six.

Jones said he missed be­ing away from the team, though he said he kept in con­tact with at least one mem­ber of the or­ga­ni­za­tion: ex­ec­u­tive Doug Williams. Williams, pro­moted Tues­day to se­nior vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel, Jones said, ad­vised him to put his head down and com­pete.

Jones said he re­spects Williams and the two talked ev­ery other day.

Jones said he’s will­ing to do “what­ever it takes,” in­clud­ing play on spe­cial teams if asked.

But there’s no doubt that Jones finds him­self in a sit­u­a­tion that is dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than when he en­tered mini­camp last June.

“It’s foot­ball,” Jones said. “It’s life, you have to deal with it. You take the good with the bad. That’s what I’m do­ing, keep­ing my head high and still keep grind­ing.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins run­ning back Matt Jones said skip­ping the last few weeks of vol­un­tary or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties was part of a plan worked out with his agent.

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