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As players take their final breaks before training camp, The Redskins Blog will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we've learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.
Today, we'll focus on rookie running back Matt Jones.
1. He cried of gratitude with his mother when he got drafted:Every draft pick dreams of being ith their family when they hear life altering news. That was the case for Jones on the second night of the NFL Draft, sitting with his mother at home when the Redskins selected him in the third round.
Check out images of rookie running back Matt Jones during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
"We were sitting there, and when I got that call, man, it was just like my heart and I just was sinking into my couch, man," he said. "Just seeing my momma so happy, it almost made me cry, man. Well, it did make me cry, man. I was just so happy. I've never seen her so much excited in my life, man. So, this was big for me, this was big for me and my family."
2. The train is ready to run:The Redskins asked Jones on draft day if the train was ready to run, which implied that they already viewed the Florida running back as a high-speed, chugging, strong running back. Jones was ready, indeed, and probably flattered by the metaphor.
"Matt's a physical runner. He's a downhill-type runner. We had him in for a visit a couple of weeks ago and we liked his attitude," general manager Scot McCloughan said. "We liked what he knew about football and his passion for the game and his running style. He's a little bit different than what we've had around here. He's a downhill, smash-mouth type runner. He's a physical kid, and he's a good kid, and smart."
3. Gruden thinks Jones will offer good competition for Alfred Morris:When Jones first learned he was joining the Redskins, the only running back on the roster he knew was Alfred Morris. That seems fair considering that's the player he'll be primarily competing with for carries in training camp.
"That's what training camp is for and the preseason games, and Alfred is a darn good halfback, so in order to take carries off of him, you've got to show a lot," head coach Jay Gruden said. "So far, Matt has taken the right steps to take a little bit of the load off of Alfred. But like I said before, Alfred is our feature back, obviously, but in the NFL nowadays it's important to have two, three guys that can carry the ball. If you want to commit to running the football, you've got to have a couple guys that can tote it, so Matt will just add to the number."
4. He was disappointed with his college career:Jones led his Florida team in rushing attempts (166), rushing yards (817) and rushing touchdowns (6) in 2014, but was disappointed his receiving skills were never fully utilized with the Gators (he caught just 11 passes for 65 yards last season).
"That's why I've kind of got a chip on my shoulder," he said. "My college career wasn't what I wanted it to be but I thank God for it. But I really want to have a successful career in the NFL so that's why I'm going even harder because I didn't have the college career I wanted. I think it's because of the offense that I was in. I love this offense because I'm more downhill and I feel like I can do what I want to."
- He realizes Alfred is the starter and will learn his role on the team: **Like any rookie, eagerness to start and acceptance to sit can be polarizing, often contradictory feelings. But Jones has received counsel from Morris and has approached this offseason knowing he may end up doing both things.
"I know Alfred Morris has been the starter but we will compete," he said. "I will compete with anybody who's in front of me. Like I said, I want to add everything I've got to the team and just be a team guy. [Alfred] said he was a free agent and grinded all the way through to a starter role to being a pro-bowler so he gave me tips of just being a humble guy and just coming in and doing what you have to do."
6. McCloughan is really confident in him:One of the privileges afforded to a general manager, especially one that has been in the league for years and has established strong relationships with players, is being able to casually text Pro Bowlers that they drafted.
For McCloughan, this meant conversing with another third-round running back he selected while with the 49ers.
"It was funny, I talked to Frank Gore last night, and my first draft in San Fran we took him in the third and I said 'If he's half the player you are we'll be OK,'" McCloughan said after the draft. "So I'm excited about Matt. He came in yesterday, you guys met him. He's a big-body guy, he's a physical player and he's tough as crud."
Funny how history tends to repeat itself.
7. Jones looks up to Marshawn Lynch's running style:This is exciting if you're a Redskins fan and have seen Marshawn Lynch do just about anything in the league the last several seasons with the Seahawks. Jones even has the dreads flowing underneath his helmet to curry the comparison.
"I like Marshawn Lynch. I like, I think it's Chris Ivory. I really like those two a lot," he said. "I feel like I run like them. I feel like I can catch the ball little more. Those are some of the guys I kind of idol myself after."