Tuesday, May 14, 2013
WR Jones excited for opportunity
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Lost in the shuffle of the New England Patriots drafting two receivers last month, losing Wes Welker through free agency, and signing Danny Amendola to replace him were some lesser-known signings at wide receiver this offseason.
Former Buffalo Bills pass-catcher Donald Jones was one of those additions, and is coming off his best season as a pro after going undrafted out of Youngstown State in 2010.
Donald Jones caught 41 passes for 443 yards last season in Buffalo.
Like Welker with the Miami Dolphins, Jones shined against his AFC East rival Patriots while with the Bills. Some of his top performances have come against New England, including an explosive 68-yard touchdown catch in Week 4 of last season.
"I've played well against the Patriots the last few years," Jones said Tuesday. "I'm sure Coach Belichick took that into consideration when looking at me."
When taking his free-agent visit to New England this spring, Jones said coaches joked about a crushing hit he took from Vince Wilfork later in that game.
"It was a middle screen. I don't even really remember how Vince ended up right there when I caught the ball," Jones said. "It actually looked a lot worse than it was. It didn't hurt. I'm sure if he landed on me it would have hurt a lot more."
Jones set career highs last season with 41 receptions for 443 yards and four touchdowns, but was placed on the non-football injury list in Week 16 with an undisclosed medical issue.
"I'm here working now, I'm healthy," Jones said. "I work every day with the team doctors here, the team trainers, so I'm healthy enough to be out here and that's really all I pay attention to going forward."
Jones is one of nine new faces at wide receiver this season, which could create an opportunity for him to emerge in a wide-open position battle. For Jones, that's a double-edged sword, and requires building trust with quarterback Tom Brady.
"I really grew up watching him. To be here and playing alongside him now is a -- I don't want to say a dream come true because that kind of sounds starstruck -- but is really is," Jones said. "(But) if you go out there and mess it up, you're going to be on the bench and Tom's not throwing to you."
After catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick for the last three seasons, Jones has already noticed differences in the Patriots' offensive system under Brady.
"In Buffalo (the playbook) got harder (than college) but once you get it, you get it. Here, they keep you on your toes. They switch a lot of things up week to week," Jones said. "(Brady) is very fast, up tempo. His biggest thing is working hard. If you come to work and work hard every day then you're cool with him."