Lions wide receiver T.J. Jones, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2014, is finally going to have the opportunity to prove his worth in the NFL. After missing his entire rookie season because of arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Jones was impressive enough this summer to make the Lions 53-man roster.
The versatility that Jones has to offer as both a wide receiver and kick/punt returner has been on display numerous times this pre-season. He had a 24-yard kickoff return in the preseason opener, plus a 15-yard catch. In the second exhibition game, he had two catches for 12 yards, plus an eight-yard punt return.
After only being on the field for seven plays in the third game, there were rumblings that the Lions might be trying to keep him under wraps in order to get him through waivers and on the practice squad. But after his performance in the final game of the pre-season, there was no hiding him anymore. His 64-yard touchdown reception was enough to secure his spot on the Lions final roster.
“I caught that ball and was running for my life,” Jones told Mlive.com. “It’s really indescribable. I can’t put it into words. It’s something that I will cherish for a while. It makes me realize how much I appreciate the game after it’s been taken away from you.”
On top of the 24-yard kickoff return, Jones has four others of at least 14 yards, although two of them were nullified by penalties. Stability in the return game is something the Lions have not had for the last couple of years but seem to at least have optimism in the return game now. Rookie Ameer Abdullah and Jones will most likely be taking over in the return department, following the release of Jeremy Ross.
This will be Jones’ “rookie” NFL season, for all intents and purposes. The hope is that Jones will only continue to get better, and his role with the team will continue to grow. What are your thoughts, Nation? Will Jones show that the team made the right choice, or will he be another failed wide receiver draft pick?