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Friday, August 1, 2014
TJ Jones frustrated missing early practices

By Michael Rothstein

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- While the rest of his rookie class and the rest of his position group runs out to the field, learns the plays and has started the first week of Detroit Lions training camp, receiver TJ Jones comes out and stands off to the side.

A hat replaces the helmet he would prefer to wear. Trying to learn things mentally replaces the physical routes he would like to run. This is not what the sixth-round pick envisioned when he was drafted out of Notre Dame, yet here he is, sidelined by a shoulder injury that left him on the physically unable to perform list to start his pro career.

"This is the dream and I’m missing the first couple weeks of it with my first time surgery, first time major injury so it’s definitely frustrating," Jones said. "But you have to learn to separate the frustration."

It is unclear when that frustration will end. Jones told ESPN.com he had a checkup on his shoulder last week and one is scheduled again for early next week. After that, he’ll meet with coaches and doctors to determine when he might be able to practice for the first time.

This comes a week-and-a-half after Jones reported to camp with his shoulder not 100 percent as he spent his offseason time in Atlanta rehabbing following surgery.

It is difficult for Jones, too, because if he was healthy he would be in a fairly tight position battle with Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham, Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles and Corey Fuller for receiving spots behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

What he is missing physically, he is trying to make up for mentally. He is using practices to try and learn all three Lions receiver positions so when he does end up playing, he won't be too far behind.

He admits not being able to actually run the routes will mean the physical component will take more time.

"As far as learning the playbook, I don’t know if it’s that much of a setback because I have the extra time to learn the plays," Jones said. "But as far as learning how to run each particular route against a different scheme, a different defense, that definitely sets me back because they are going to run a lot of coverages and schemes that I haven’t seen before in college that I have to get used to."

For Jones, the waiting continues now and when he will practice for the first time is an answer he has not gotten yet.