"Showtime" might not be ready for prime time yet, but Wednesday provided a good afternoon in Reggie Jones push to become a more recognizable player.
Jones, the cornerback known to his teammates as "Showtime," had what was likely his best practice of at least 2012. As his comfort level in the defense and the responsibilities assigned to him has grown, Jones has become a more instinctual player.
"It's pretty much the same defense (as last year). A few wrinkles here and there, but I got to learn being on the practice squad the last few weeks of (last) season," Jones said. "I got to learn and pick up from some of the vets and see what to do and what not to do. I feel like I had a little bit of a head start coming into training camp. Just starting to hit my groove."
His "groove" came Wednesday afternoon during the full-team portion of practice, the most telling session in camp practices. He ended the first full-team period by anticipating the route being run by receiver Kerry Taylor and stepping in the line of Sage Rosenfels' pass. A couple seconds later, Jones was on his way to a touchdown after his interception.
During the next full-team session, Jones had back-to-back plays that helped him stand out. There was a tackle-for-loss on a reverse to Jarius Wright and on the next play he was batting down a pass from Christian Ponder to Wright.
After spending the final eight games of 2011 on the Vikings' practice squad (he was also with the Saints and Redskins), Jones is finally able to package what he learned with his natural athleticism to produce a confident cornerback.
"That confidence is everything. If you don't have confidence, you're playing slow, you're playing timid, you're playing scared," Jones said. "I'm a confident guy. Being that I'm making plays right now, it just raises my confidence. I'm not going to get overconfident, over-cocky at all."
His playmaking ability on defense could earn him a spot on the 53-man roster if he continues to repeat Wednesday's performance. At least one veteran took notice. With Jones talking to a reporter after practice, veteran defensive end Brian Robison walked by, stopped and gave "Showtime" another boost of assurance.
"This guy is doing a great job," Robison said. "He's going to be a future star."
For now, Jones is still honing his game and trying to learn from other cornerbacks with more experience, especially the one with the most tenure on the team, 14th-year veteran Antoine Winfield.
"Mainly just watching Antoine, watching his footwork when I first came in. Even though he wasn't playing, he was still talking to me, giving me little hints here and there, telling me what I can do," Jones said of Winfield, who was injured by the time Jones became part of the Vikings' practice squad. "Asher (Allen), who was here last year, he had phenomenal footwork. Just kind of picked different things from different people."
With plenty of competition at cornerback in this year's camp, Jones knows nothing is assured, but for now he is showing his best and hoping it continues.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
‘Showtime' showing confidence, anticipation
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