John Crist: I've been a fan of Kevin Jones ever since he broke Florida State's heart and signed with Virginia Tech as a high-schooler in Chester, Pennsylvania. What are his strengths as a player, and how might he be able to help the Bears right away this season?
Nate Caminata: Jones ran away from people at the collegiate level and ran over people in the pros. He is a north-to-south runner with a pedigree for running through linebackers. During a game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 he went helmet-to-helmet with Ray Lewis, who probably doesn't recall the play seeing as how it took him the better part of an entire series to recover. Jones will get the necessary tough yardage but can also hit the outside with convincing speed. He has great hands – 61 receptions in just 12 games in 2006 – and can be an every-down back if he remains healthy.
JC's Take: Jones only had one 100-yard rushing performance this past season, but he did it against the Bears at Soldier Field with 23 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown in a Lions upset victory.
JC: There is no question that Jones has everything you look for in a ball-carrier, but he's never been able to stay on the field consistently during his career. Is there anything else that can be qualified as a weakness in his game?
NC: Health has always been a lingering concern with Jones. He had knee troubles in college, suffered a Lisfranc injury late in 2006, and followed that up with a knee injury last year. The difference between the Lions and Bears, however, might be the fact that Jones will have better protection and running lanes in the Windy City. This is a running back with all the intangibles, but his career in Detroit was marred by an injury-prone tag that he simply hasn't been able to shake.
JC's Take: I do remember Jones being banged up quite a bit even during his days in Blacksburg with the Hokies, and he might even have to open the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list since he just tore his ACL seven months ago.
JC: A lot of Bears fans were somewhat surprised when the Lions let Jones go in the offseason, and the feeling around Chicago was quite positive when he signed with the team Tuesday. What was the temperature in Detroit both after Jones was jettisoned and now that he'll be suiting up for a bitter NFC North rival in 2008?
NC: Lions fans are resigned to the fact that Jones will likely come back and haunt them. It's almost counted upon, and with good reason. Players that Detroit has given up on – even Joey Harrington, who embarrassed them on Thanksgiving Day two seasons ago – have a penchant for returning with a chip on their shoulder. Most fans believe that while Jones' touchdown-to-injury ratio wasn't exactly reassuring, he deserved at least another year with a new offense featuring zone blocking that caters to his style. He was misused under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and unceremoniously dismissed this past offseason. It's a shame that he'll have an opportunity to put his career on the map, but this time on the other side of Lake Michigan.
JC's Take: It's hard to believe that any team looks at Chicago and believes the Bears have a superior offensive line, but that only goes to show you how good Jones has been when healthy because he's never had anybody of consequence blocking for him up front – there hasn't been a Pro Bowl O-lineman in the Motor City since center Kevin Glover all the way back in 1997.
Scout Analysis: RB Kevin Jones
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