Jones a quick study
HOUSTON – Derrick Jones was trying to figure out the next step in his football career.
After rehabbing a knee injury and missing the NFL regular season, he decided his best opportunity to get back on the field was in the XFL.
“I did a few workouts with NFL teams, but I decided with my agent that I wanted to come here and get back into the real of things as far as being on the field,” Jones said.
So, as the Dragons work through the final days of training camp, the cornerback is playing catchup as he looks to make an impact with his new team.
“It’s kind of like in camp, when you go back in July for the NFL,” Jones said. “It’s the same thing. You’ve got to get back with your routine pretty quick, get in the playbook. I’ve got a whole day to be in my playbook, so I’ll be fine.”
Jones signed with the team earlier this week and was on the sideline with his new teammates during Seattle’s mock game with Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
“I feel like we’ve got a group of great guys here,” he said. “They’re full of energy. I like the way they’re practicing. I definitely like the energy of this group.”
With an off day on Thursday, Jones’ first opportunity to take the field was Friday morning. He jogged onto the field with a wide smile, flashing a gold grill. He seemed to quickly adjust to the Dragons’ defensive system.
“It feels great to be back on the field,” he said. “I like the defense I’m with right now. It’s kind of like the defense I had in New York, a lot of similar things. I feel like I fit right in with this group.”
Jones started his professional career with the Jets in 2017. He was drafted in the sixth round out of Ole Miss and spent his first two seasons in New York.
“I loved it in New York,” he said. “It was an honor to be drafted by the Jets.”
Raised in Eupora, Miss. – about 20 miles from Starkville, home of Mississippi State University – Jones stayed close to home for college, choosing Ole Miss. Being drafted by the Jets was his first opportunity to live outside of Mississippi.
“I’ve been in Mississippi my whole life,” he said. “That was my first time leaving. That was a plus for me. I liked being in A LOT bigger city. The traveling is definitely a big plus for me. I like to see new things, different sceneries. That’s definitely one thing you’re going to do, you’re going to travel a lot playing football.”
Football has provided Jones an opportunity to broaden his horizons, but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey.
Jones was waived by the Jets back in August and quickly signed with the Packers before a failed physical landed him in Houston where he eventually received an injury settlement.
“I just felt like my knee was getting a little swelling on it,” he said.
So, instead of playing in the NFL, Jones was going back and forth between Eupora and Oxford to rehab his injury.
“I got things right,” he said. “I felt like my knee was strong, so I started back working out.”
Now that he is with the Dragons, Jones is focused on the basics.
“My eye discipline,” he said. “That’s my major thing. I need to get my eye discipline back right, my technique. Mentally, I’ve been ready, but physically I knew my body needed a little rest, but I’m ready now.”
Jones may be joining the Dragons late in camp, but he is just in time for a couple of tune-ups against Seattle’s Week 1 opponent, the D.C. Defenders. He has a chance to show what he can do before the Dragons break camp.
“It’s time to get back into the groove,” he said. “Yes sir. Get back into the groove and win some games.”