All wide receiver, TJ Jones, needed was a chance. That opportunity arose in week 13 after Lance Moore suffered a sprained ankle and was forced to miss time. Jones filled in admirably during Moore’s absence taking over the slot duties in the Detroit Lions offense. Now, even with Moore healthy, Jones still has been receiving a considerable amount of game action.
Playing 23 offensive snaps against the San Francisco 49ers, Jones grabbed his first career touchdown on a 29-yard post route between the deep safety and corner. It was a difficult catch in traffic and came with a painful price.
Jones has 10 catches, 127 yards, and a touchdown so far on the year. Those numbers won’t blow you away, but he has come up big with his limited targets. After an injury plagued rookie year with nerve damage in his shoulder, you could essentially label this his first season. Jones was considered to be a darkhorse and on the roster bubble in the preseason, but Jim Caldwell recognized his untapped potential.
“When he had the opportunity to show what he can do, you could really see his skill level is pretty unique. I’ve been really impressed with him and the way he’s been doing things,” said Jim Caldwell.
With Lance Moore‘s age and impending free agency, TJ Jones is lobbying for the future slot role.
Jones already leapfrogged another fellow sixth-round pick, Corey Fuller, on the receiver depth chart. Fuller may have the better measurables, but his track speed hasn’t equated to game speed or consistent big plays. Jones, on the other hand, is following in the footsteps of his Notre Dame brethren, Theo Riddick and Golden Tate, being an undersized gamer with all the coveted intangibles.
“He’s really got a huge upside when you look at him. He’s got return ability, he’s faster than what you think, he’s tough, he can catch the ball in traffic and I just think he, he hasn’t reached the pinnacle yet in his career, but I just think he’s got a real bright future ahead of him,” said Jim Caldwell.
From what we have seen the past few weeks, there is good reason to believe that Jones can continue to develop and contribute as a wide receiver next year and beyond.