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Despite Competition For Playing Time, Matt Jones Remains In Mix At Running Back

Posted Jun 14, 2017

Back on the field at minicamp, Redskins running back Matt Jones "ready to do whatever it takes" to earn his playing time during the regular season.

Back on the field at minicamp, Redskins running back Matt Jones "ready to do whatever it takes" to earn his playing time during the regular season.

Not at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., for the Washington Redskins’ three weeks of voluntary OTA sessions, running back Matt Jones was back on Tuesday afternoon, participating in mandatory minicamp alongside his teammates.

“It felt good to be back,” Jones told reporters. “Man, I missed it. Like I told my running back coach today, Randy [Jordan], I said, ‘I missed it, man,’ And he was telling me he missed me too,” Jones said. “It felt good, man, it felt like I never left. I feel like I was here the whole OTA practices so, it felt good just to be back out here to see guys making plays and see how far everybody’s progressed. And I was just letting them know I wasn’t just slacking off, I was down in Florida training up too.”

Jones’ positioning with the team has changed from offseason workouts this time a year ago. Tabbed as the replacement to Alfred Morris in the starting lineup at running back last year, the 2015 third-round pick had two 100-yard rushing performances in Washington’s first six games and was a Week 4 nominee for FedEx Ground Player of the Week.

But in a 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 7, Jones suffered a crucial miscue in the second quarter with a fumble into the end zone. It was his third fumble in a five-game span.

Between injuries and Robert Kelley’s rise in performance, Jones would be made inactive for the final nine games of the season.

Not only is Kelley pegged as the starter now, the Redskins also drafted Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher in Samaje Perine in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Jones has to show he can earn playing time back during training camp and the preseason slate, but Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is confident the 24-year-old will give his best in the coming months.

“It’s all competition,” Gruden said of Jones getting back onto the field during regular season action. “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 who has been here working very hard and done such a good job, but it’s not impossible. Rob Kelley has done a great job. I like what Samaje has done, I like what Mack Brown has done. Heck, Keith Marshall has shown up big after his injury, and Matt. All of those guys can play. And then obviously you have Chris Thompson, who has a lockdown role as third-down back, and maybe a little bit more.

“So it’s really a tough position to crack, but I wouldn’t put anything past Matt. He’s a big, physical guy.”

Jones added that he’s “ready to do whatever it takes just to get back” into a position where he’s part of the running back rotation, starting or not.

In 20 career games with the Redskins, Jones has recorded 243 rushing attempts with 950 yards and six touchdowns. He’s also hauled in 27 career receptions for 377 yards and one receiving score.

“Definitely it starts here, you know, it starts with practices like this, coming out, competing with the guys, having fun, getting back into it with the coaches and stuff like that,” Jones said. “I’m ready.  It’s just so much built up, but you know how that goes.  I’m out here just to work.”

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