Edgar Jones taking advantage of opportunity

OWINGS MILLS — The football hung in the air for a while and looked like it was going to sail incomplete out of Edgar Jones' reach. Then, the Baltimore Ravens' tight end accelerated into an extra gear to haul in the deep pass from quarterback Joe Flacco before sprinting into the end zone at last week's passing camp.

For Jones, it was yet another demonstration that he's gaining a comfort level at the tight end position after converting from defensive end-outside linebacker.

"It's starting to be a lot smoother," Jones said. "It's so much different from playing on the defensive side of the ball. Now, it's starting to become a lot more natural. Everything is coming around to the point where I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with everything in the offense and knowing what the defense is doing."

Jones' improvement has become a necessity for the Ravens, who continue another passing camp today at their training complex.

With the Ravens' three top tight ends — Todd Heap (lower back), L.J. Smith (groin) and Quinn Sypniewski (knee surgery) —sidelined or limited due to injuries, Jones has taken the majority of the repetitions with the first-team offense during minicamps. There has also been an increased workload for rookie tight end Davon Drew, a fifth-round draft pick from East Carolina.

With the increased playing time, Jones is getting a lot of extra attention from the coaching staff.

"That's helping me out a lot," Jones said. "You never want to see guys get hurt, but I'm trying to take advantage of the work as much as I can. I've been hearing good things from the coaches. I had a bad day the other day, but I corrected my mistakes."

After making the team two years ago as an undrafted free agent who led all Division I-AA players in sacks as a senior at Southeast Missouri, Jones is gaining a grasp of how to play tight end.

"Yeah, he's looking more like a tight end," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The reps are helping and he's made a couple of catches. It's all new for Edgar, but I think he's coming along quickly."

A former all-state high school basketball player in Rayville, La., Jones also played wide receiver in high school.

At 6-foot-3, 263 pounds, Jones is fast, strong and versatile.

He notched six tackles last season on special teams, a half-sack on defense and caught his first NFL pass for a 25-yard gain.

However, there's still a lot for him to learn as he continues to make the adjustment from chasing the football to trying to catch it.

"I always thought I could catch, and the route running is progressing because I'm so used to dropping back into coverage," Jones said. "The blocking, as far as learning technique, having the right hand placement and bringing your feet with you to drive block, that's starting to come around. I feel like I can stretch the field and get open."

Although Heap and Smith are expected to be cleared for full participation in practice by training camp at the latest with Sypniewski regarded as a question mark following his latest surgery, Jones figures to be in the Ravens' plans as a reserve tight end as well as on special teams.

At this point, tight end is looking like it will be Jones' primary position this season.

"Right now, it's looking that way," Jones said. "Defense will always be second nature for me, but it's about whatever the team needs. Who knows what's going to happen? You've got to be ready because you never know when your name is going to be called."

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