The Plight of a Journeyman

Bears WR Onrea Jones has played for seven NFL teams and will soon be finishing up his fifth preseason. Bear Report talked with him about this offseason and his unceasing drive to play in the NFL.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Onrea Jones was the leading receiver in Monday's preseason matchup against the New York Giants. His three catches tied with Earl Bennett and Devin Hester for the team lead and his 48 yards trailed only Bennett.

His work came solely on the team's last drive of the game: a two-minute situation that Jones said made his head spin.

"Going in the last two minutes, it was kind of rough mentally, but I just tried to think the best of it and go out there and show the coaches here and coaches everywhere that I can play," Jones said. "I had fun out there for that two minutes and that's what matters."

He said that while his numbers from the game were impressive, he did make some mistakes, which he's working on to correct.


WR Onrea Jones
Scott Boehm/Getty

"I was kind of anxious to get extra yards," he said. "There was a situation where I should've just gotten out of bounds when I made the catch. That could have been a plus play instead of a negative play. But that's just something that I've got to work on."

Jones knows his odds of making this year's Bears team are slim to none. He's the seventh receiver on the depth chart and the team will most likely keep just five. So for him, these appearances in preseason are tryouts for not only the team he's currently on but also for potential employers down the line.

"When I do get the opportunity late in the game like that, and that's my only drive, [I need to] still play like it's for the end of the game and not just for my reps," he said.

For a player like Jones, special teams are one of the best ways for him to make an NFL roster. He said he's learned a lot working under Bears coordinator Dave Toub, known around the league as one of the best in the business.

"He's a great special teams coach," Jones said. "Just technique-wise, [I've learned] a lot of thing that I didn't know coming from other teams. I just try to soak it in. He's a good teacher. That last preseason game, that wasn't his teaching as far as [the group playing poorly]. That was us as a team. Next game we should be pretty good because we're really focused out here during the special teams period, so we should be a lot better."

He said he's looking at Saturday's game against the Titans as one more opportunity to show the decision makers in the NFL how valuable he could be to a team.

"I'm hoping when I get in, or if I get in, to just go out there and not have any mental mistakes," said Jones. "From the smallest detail of the alignment on the field to making every catch that is thrown to me. And if it's not thrown to me, just running the route correctly."

The Bears are the seventh team Jones has played for the past five years. Yet being a journeyman hasn't hurt his love for the game and he has no intentions of stopping, even if he doesn't make an NFL roster this season.

"Of course you're going to go out and have mistakes but you can't make the same mistakes over and over. That's the big challenge," he said. "I can say that I have the physical tools, I've just got to get the mental part there. So you've got to put it together and that's what I want to do."

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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