Some coaches like to throw “smoke screens” to the media, giving misleading or outright false statements to reporters in regards to the inner workings of their teams.
Chan Gailey is not one of those coaches. He sometimes gives non-answers, but if he says something, it’s what he believes.
So therefore, I’ll take him at his word an early leader has emerged in the crowded battle for the #2 receiver role – Donald Jones.
Of course, Gailey acknowledged that the battle is far from over:
“It’s too early. To be honest with you, you can ask me about the third week in training camp and I’m going to tell you it’s too early. We’ll know exactly where we stand and it all works itself out by the time we get to the first ball game. We’ve got two or three guys that have done a great job. Donald Jones is probably a little bit ahead of everybody at this point.”
That’s a really good sign for Jones, who struggled in 2011 after winning the #2 job in camp. You can see why the coaches are high on Jones – the man is a serious athlete with real potential to be an effective outside receiver. However, he desperately needs to win that #2 job – otherwise he might not make the roster at all.
Interestingly for a guy who supposedly has the inside track for the #2 job, Jones has actually spent much of his time working in the slot duirng OTAs this month. Jones is seemingly comfortable with the role though: “I love the slot,” said Jones. ”You have a lot more flexibility in the slot. You don’t have guys beating up on you every play, so I definitely like being in there…You have a lot more room in the slot. You have a two-way go. You’re working a lot more on nickels, but also linebackers and safeties, so we definitely have the edge. When you’re outside the corners have the sideline as their help and then they have the inside help so you have less flexibility.”
That’s all well and good, but it’d be nice if someone could play on the outside with Stevie Johnson. Keep an eye on Jones as the preseason rolls on.