Battling for role not Jones' toughest job

Rookie running back Matt Jones loves delivering blows to would-be tacklers. He's not a fan of putting his family, including three-year-old daughter, on hold while pursuing his NFL dream, yet he did. Now Jones enters his first NFL training camp pursuing a sizable role in the Redskins backfield.

Part of the NFL allure for fans is clear: Watching massive human beings smash into each other. Good bet that most of those watching from the stands or on the couch have no actual interest in being on either end of those forceful collisions.

In this sense, Washington Redskins rookie running back Matt Jones learned a long time ago that he wasn't like most people.

"I've been playing running back since I was like nine years old. Just being hit every time and delivering a blow -- when you delivering a blow or you break a tackle, it feels good," Jones said.

As he discussed his smashmouth style with Breaking Burgundy on the final day of Washington's mini-camp last month, a devilish grin spread across the power-packed runner's face.

"Big guys... we love contact," Jones said.

The physical aspect of the 6-foot-2, 231-pounder' game is primarily what attracted the Redskins to selecting the University of Florida product in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. While his initial role may be as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, Jones has his sights set higher.

"I kind of got the feeling that Alfred is going to be the starter, but I do want to -- I am going to put more pressure on Alfred on him just too even make him a better back. Maybe make him go even harder," Jones said. "With that being said, I don't know. Nobody knows."

Yet pushing Morris for playing time and perhaps, the starting role, won't be Jones' toughest job this year.

When not at Redskins Park, the 22-year-old trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. According to Google Maps, that's about an hour away from the physical runner's native Tampa. Thousands of workers commute that distance each day, but Jones' efforts are not of the 9-5 variety. He stayed at IMG to get his skills honed, his body toned and his mind right before tackling the NFL.

That meant staying away from his family and staying focused on the goal.

"I had to put my family on hold and kind of tell them that I'm over here trying to get my mind straight trying to pursue my dream to get to this next level so I can prepare myself and have a great career," he said. "It was HARD, but I had to do it."

Family for Jones includes his three-year-old daughter, Aniyah.

"The hardest thing I had to do was explain to my little girl every time I see her that daddy is going to be gone for a little bit and I'm going to come back. That's probably the hardest thing I had to do was just being a father and pursue that dream," he said.

What hasn't been hard for Jones is making the adjustment from college to the pros.

"I'm just very blessed to have a smooth transition from (Florida) to here now." he said. "I haven't really had a brain fart or nothing. I've been talking it in great. I came in, smoothed down the offense, I'm good with that."

Jones recognizes that in terms of the NFL game, he hasn't seen anything yet. Mini-camps and OTAs aren't played at full speed and therefore don't require pads. That won't be the case for much of training camp and preseason games. For a player whose wants to emulate the likes of power backs Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, the hitting is fun part.

"We love to be physical, wear teams down, break tackles,"Jones said. "I love how they run."

Jones only caught 11 passes with the Gators last season. The sense is that low number reflects more on Florida's game plan than Jones' ability. He likely enters the season as Washington's third-down back. Roy Helu Jr., who served that role last season, now plays for the Oakland Raiders. Morris isn't a pass-catching threat.

"I love catching the ball. I love running routes out of the backfield," Jones stated excitedly." Knowing that Roy (Helu Jr.) is gone, that's definitely a position that's open. It's definitely a position I'm going to try to fulfill. I'm working towards that and I'm going to keep working towards that."

For now, "that" might be a role on third down. In time, Jones hopes to deliver big hits on other downs as well.


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