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NEW ORLEANS -- Safety Chad Jones joined the New York Giants on the sideline for the first time since suffering a life-threatening leg injury in a June 2010 car crash.
"My adrenaline is going to be pumping," Jones said Monday night, before running onto the Superdome field with his teammates for a game against the New Orleans Saints.
"I'm going to be amped up and ready for the game myself. I'll want to run out on the field (for the game), but I'll make my way to the sideline."
|Chad Jones cherished being on the sideline with the Giants in his hometown.|
Jones, 23, is a New Orleans native and a former football and baseball star at LSU. He spent Sunday night with the Giants in the team hotel and was especially excited to see Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Jacobs and Corey Webster, who Jones bonded with during minicamp after he was drafted in April 2010.
He also spoke with head coach Tom Coughlin and team CEO/owner John Mara, who had words of encouragement to Jones.
"He just told me that I'm looking great," Jones said. "He's just excited to see how good I'm doing and how good I am walking around. So I guess he is all thumbs-up with me."
Jones is working his way through grueling rehabilitation, with the goal of being in pads at Giants training camp next summer.
"(Training camp) is definitely still realistically in the plans, as long as I'm still progressing. The way things are going, I see no reason why I shouldn't be out there with the team," Jones said. "So I am feeling pretty good about it."
On Oct. 5, Jones, who nearly lost his leg and had to undergo over a dozen surgeries, ran 40-yard dashes clocked at 4.84 and 4.9 seconds.
Now training with strength and conditioning coach Carter Stamm and speed and agility coach Derrick Joseph, Jones has been doing cutting and agility drills, running uphill runs and 100-yard sprints.
He put on cleats for the first time about two weeks ago and has been running 100-yard dashes with a resistance parachute with an average of about 15 seconds, according to his physical therapist John Moran.
Jones also has been working out with Charlotte Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin to improve on his footwork.
"Chad's biggest limitation at this point is his endurance," Moran said. "We need to build his endurance to practice with the Giants this summer and play a full 60 minutes. For all of 2010 and some of 2011, we could not train his endurance due to his inability to walk and run for long distances.
"Now that he can do these activities without pain and swelling, his endurance is gradually getting better," Moran continued. "He no longer has a big inflammatory response to his training. He can run and do cutting drills at lunch and come in that night and squat 300-plus pounds, come back the next day and do it all over again without soreness and pain."
Moran says Jones' athleticism is improving with each week. At the end of December, Jones plans to go one-on-one covering players without any hitting in an event open to the public.
And when some of his former LSU and Giants teammates return to the area during the offseason, Jones hopes to put on pads and participate in game-pace, full-contact training around the end of February.
"Every component of Chad's athleticism is getting better every week," Moran said. "When muscle strength, muscle endurance, foot and running speed and flexibility reach their peak, Chad Jones will play a role on the Giants defense and special teams. Carter, Derrick and myself all feel that this will happen during the spring of 2012.
"I predict that by May 2012, Chad will be the strongest he has ever been and running within one-tenth of a second of his best 40-yard dash time."
Jones can already visualize it.
"Every time I walk into a stadium before a game, I picture myself just backpedaling and making interceptions and making plays," Jones said. "I spent all day dreaming about the game, before the game. I still have that fight in me, that fighting edge and that football tenacity. Things are looking good."Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.