If anyone on the Baltimore Ravens roster poised for a “breakout” year, think of no one else other than defensive end Arthur Jones.
Jones, the Ravens’ fifth-round pick of Syracuse in 2010, has spent much of the last two years playing understudy to the likes of Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding.
And with Redding following ex-defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to Indianapolis, a position on the Ravens starting defensive line appears Jones’ for the taking.
Jones joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” to talk about his expanded role and extra responsibilities this season in an all-important third year for the lineman.
“I have a different mindset,” Jones said. “The last few years have definitely been a learning process.”
Jones has lined up at both inside at tackle and outside at end for defensive coordinators Greg Mattison and Chuck Pagano the past several years, and he again figures to continue to hold that “tweener” role for this year’s play-caller, Dean Pees.
Essentially, Jones says he’s compiled and learned a lot of information over his first two NFL seasons to give Pees as many options as possible on where to fit him on his defense.
“It’s really helped me figure out this defense with the different coordinators that we had and kind of find my niche on the team,” Jones said.
Jones started to show up on the radar last season-in which he appeared in 14 games for the Ravens, and started one.
He registered 20 tackles and toward the end of the season began to see more playing time and slowly became a threat in some games despite not having the stats to back it up.
Just ask Colt McCoy, who sprained his ankle last December thanks to a hit from the 6’3, 313 pounder.
That experience has definitely boosted his morale and enthusiasm going into the start of this week’s training camp at Owings Mills.
“You know I’ve just got to keep on improving my skills,” Jones said. “I feel more explosive, I feel more alive, it’s hard to explain.”
But, Jones is also going to have show some mental toughness. Despite his playing time from last year and growth, he will be in a camp-battle with second-year guy Pernell McPhee, who most likely will take the field on third-down with the job of simply chasing down the quarterback and earning accolades by piling up sacks.
McPhee-a fellow fifth-round pick-grabbed six of them in his rookie season.
Jones said that even if he doesn’t get those opportunities, he still guaranteed that you’ll hear his name called a lot more this season.
“A the end of the day it really doesn’t matter, me and him both are going to get a lot of playing time and you’re going to hear both our names on the announcement a lot with tackles, sacks, tackles for loss.”
Having been in this league for two years to wait his turn, Jones said he fully understands that you’re never not fighting for a spot, and the battle is only going to make this defense better by bringing the best out of he and McPhee.
“I know it’s going to be a great competition competing for a starting job,” Jones said. “Me and [McPhee] and our whole defense…we’ve just been working hard and grinding and it’s been nothing but positives this off-season.”
And he said he’s learned from three of the best in the business in All-Pros Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and his mentor from last season in Redding-whose position he will be stepping into mostly on first and second downs.
Or whenever or how much he is needed in any capacity or role.
“Backing up Haloti Ngata isn’t a bad thing for two years. Having a leader like that and a guy who’s a huge mentor- him and Cory Redding-to show me how to play this defense…you know I’ve been a student and these guys have been the masters.”
Jones laughed saying he couldn’t be in a better spot to learn from the Defensive Player of the Year.
They moved my locker in the locker room next to Terrell Suggs so hopefully some of that good luck rubs off on me and a couple sacks fall in my lap,” Jones replied.
WNST thanks Arthur Jones for joining WNST and will be watching him ever so closely in training camp! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!