Friday, March 15, 2013
Scouting report: Donald Jones
By Joe Buscaglia, Special to ESPNBoston.com
Wide receiver Donald Jones, who today joined the Patriots, went from an undrafted training camp long-shot to a Chan Gailey favorite over the course of a couple of months. Making the team outright in 2010, Jones was noted for his work on special teams coverage units and his effective use of his size (6-foot, 208 pounds).
Fans in Buffalo never really warmed to Donald Jones.
Once Lee Evans was traded before the 2011 season, the starting job was entrusted to Jones. It was a constant struggle with catching the ball in his sophomore season, but he continued along in the starting role because of his physicality and blocking abilities. Jones suffered an ankle injury twice, the second of which ended his season six weeks early.
With no one taking the reins on the No. 2 job in training camp last season, Jones won the job heading in to the regular season. Jones became a critical part of the offensive game plan in his third season and also showed a new confidence in his hands. Gailey sent him in motion quite a number of times, using him either as a lead blocker or a decoy on misdirection run plays. Jones once again ended the season on injured reserve, this time due to an undisclosed medical condition the wideout said he'd been dealing with all his life.
Despite his 41 receptions in 2012, Bills fans never warmed up to Jones after his poor 2011 campaign. Fans were always looking for the Bills to find his replacement. With a new coaching staff, Jones may have just been the victim of a roster overhaul, or perhaps the Bills were scared off by the medical condition.
No matter the case, Jones can be an effective complementary receiver that can contribute on special teams. He's shown he can step into a starting role if needed. While he won't take over a game, he can make plays after the catch from time to time with his athleticism.
Joe Buscaglia is a Bills reporter for WGR 550 in Buffalo, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoeBuscaglia.