Injury Spotlight: New York Jets RB Thomas Jones limped off the practice field after injuring his lower right leg.
There were not any reports right away on exactly what type of injury it was or on the extent of how long he would be out, whether it is to be minor or serious, but it did look to be either his ankle or calf. Jones made himself unavailable to the media afterwards, and coach Eric Mangini had already spoken to the media before practice.
Jones was untouched during running back drills as he went to turn his right foot and fell. He quickly took off his helmet and untied his shoe before a trainer, who wrapped his lower right leg, checked him out.
Jones, dealt from the NFC Champions (Chicago Bears) to New York to become their legitimate, true No. 1 runner, limped off the field to the sideline and had a tight, heavy wrap placed around his leg.
Jones spent the rest of the entire practice on the sidelines, working the hand bike and stretching. He walked very gingerly after getting hurt, but was ready and able to put weight on the leg. Jones also was clearly able to move his ankle.
In perspective: This injury will not hurt the New York Jets too much, as some would like to think, jumping to a conclusion, per say, if it’s proved to be a serious/long-term, on-going problem for Mangini and Co. Assuming too soon, too quickly, altogether throwing away the chances of a good season because of just one injury, or loss on an offense that has good depth at the spot, with or without Jones, and enough talent already to replace him, if he were to go done (looking into the possibility down the road) this RB position would be able to take care of the ball and overcome his absence. So I’m saying it will not be a concern or question for the Jets team and fans especially, to consider or ponder into. The coaching staff needs to acknowledge early on and put to test the depth behind their starters and instill some confidence into the younger players if this team wants to be a perennial powerhouse in the class of the AFC. This thinking ahead, but whatever small, while it might be big, steps to be taken, New York needs to figure out now if they have what it taken to make this team into a Winner and Champions of the NFL. They made huge strides last season and should look to do the same this year, as they can improve year by year and move on to be a team that challenges the best, like the Patriots, each season, for years to come.
The Jets offense and team will be counting on Jones to carry the load and be a leader on the field. New York will also look for him to be a veteran presence off the field in the locker room, for a young, but talented squad. This being said, all the high expectations for Jones could go out the window because of his age, though he is in great physical shape. The New York Jets should not put too much stock into him coming out like “gangbusters” – performing at such a high level, producing the way he did when he was playing for the Monsters of the Midway, the past two seasons. Don’t expect another encore or “4-star” showing from Jones because he does not have the same type of solid offensive line like he did in Chicago, as he does in New York. The Jets should be wary of him because he has ran out most, if not almost all the “gas mileage” in his tank from playing for the Bears. He should not be considered a race horse or work horse for that matter, as his value and production for this former first round pick of Arizona is that of a 800/900-yard rusher, not a 1,200/1,300-yard rusher. He was a Rolls Royce the last three years, now he might just go back to being a mere image of his old-self with the Cardinals and Bucs, as a decent version of an old Toyota.
In 2007, the success for this football team will only go as far as the secondary helps them, as their defensive leaders carry them, and as their quarterback play leads them. The way to go for yardage and turn in big plays may not be all that big and gaping for Jones, seeing early on in Week One against the Patriots, when the holes opened for him might be few and not so many, as they were “big & plenty” when he was playing for one of the best teams in the NFL.
Jets question to be answered: Thomas Jones will not determine their return to the playoffs because they have strong back-ups in Leon Washington and Brad Smith. It would be nice to have him suit up all 16 games, but realistically Jets fans should expect him to miss some time due to injury, as he has shown recently in his career playing for the Black â€˜n’ Blue in Chicago. This former Bears running back is a balanced, dual-threat, being able to contribute in the passing department, as a receiver and being used for a key, vital blocker for Pennington in the long aerial situations in ’07. His play may decide if they could challenge for the division or just make the playoffs as a wildcard (not too much of a drop-off if Washington takes over). Former Florida State Seminole RB Leon Washington will be able to account for any time Jones might miss, and former Missouri standout QB/RB/WR, Mr. Versatile, Brad Smith, will be able to provide a lift when needed as an excellent pass catcher and elusive runner. So the Jets will have no problem if Jones were to go down or get replaced by the #2 or #3 RB in the depth chart. I think they would move on and not miss a beat, and they would get more of a “homerun” threat from Washington and Smith as their back. Look for the Jets to explore these possibilities and reap the benefits, as they will have to be put into play, later in this ’07 campaign.
What to expect out of the situation: The Jets are not the favorites in their division of course, but if they have any hopes of going far in the playoffs they will have to deal with injuries like their rival, the Patriots, and handle the adversity thrown at â€˜em if they want to become an elite team and force to reckoned with in the nearby future, and especially in 2007. This could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, if Jones were to miss any time now/or in the regular season, as the Jets can further along the process or Smith and Washington, two backs who can turn on the “jets” (no pun intended) like a full-time pilot can, breaking away free any time they touch the ball, taking it to the house for six; as New York would want to see out of their young, future stars in the backfield, for they need to continue to impress and progress for a team in need of more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The Jets right now are playing with “paintballs” as their main choice of weapon to hurt the opposition, as the other top teams are using “bullets” and “real” weapons/ammo to target/hurt their opposition. The Jets need to re-think and plan ahead for the future, considering if they want to remain to be a conservative style football team, or switch it up, to re-arm, and take on a new, bold, striking, and more explosive, aggressive style, that more teams are implementing into their offensive systems. New York needs to change their type of weapon choice and spice it up a little and come out with some “A-1” and not some old “Worcestershire” if they want to take the next to step in becoming one of those teams in the upper-echelon level in the National Football League. Right now they have their chance to do something different because they will not be a championship, quality contender with the offense they’re running, as they can try/test-run their toys/gadgets in Washington and Smith, and see if they are ready to turn into the weapons the team needs them to be, being utilized more and brought to play, battling with the “big guns” in New England. This New York Jets team has the chance to become a flourishing, up and coming squad on the rise, if they allow their talent to do so, and if the coaches let them out to play, airing it out, going out of their comfort zone, eliminating the boring play calling, as they would end the boo-birds, z’s, and predictability that they bring to the table each Sunday for opposing defensive coordinators.