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Datone Jones Feels "100 Times Better" Than Last Year

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Datone Jones Feels "100 Times Better" Than Last Year

Being a first round NFL Draft choice provides a player with instant name recognition and a degree of celebrity but it doesn't guarantee success.

Jones is learning that lesson as he acts as host of the Tellurian Celebrtiy Golf Tournament in the Wisconsin Dells on Monday.

Despite being the 26th overall selection in the draft last year, Jones didn't start a single game his rookie year and made just 10 tackles all season long, an average of less than one per game.

With the Green Bay Packers in the midst of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Jones is hard at work to become a better player and live up to that first-round billing.

"I already feel 100 times better than what I felt last year, and I had a full offseason, and I've learned so much from these older guys so far, and I'm just ready to go out and play," said Jones last week.

Understandably, Jones is champing at the bit for the season to start. He wants to put last season's ankle injury behind him—but truthfully, he doesn't want to talk about it. 

And admirably, Jones doesn't want to use the injury as an excuse.

"I gave it my all last year; I left it out on the field," said Jones. "You can't really look back at last year any more, you know? What happened in the past is done. Now all I can do is progress every day, so that I can reach my goals. I got to make myself happy and not anyone else."

Jones may have very well given it his all last season. But simply giving maximum effort means little when you're playing on a bum ankle.

If Jones doesn't want to acknowledge how much he was hindered by injury last season, his head coach will.

"His injury at the end of training camp set him back," said Mike McCarthy back in February at the NFL Combine. "There’s a number of packages that he was a big part of, a primary part of, and frankly we really didn’t get to a lot of them just because of the way the season went with our injuries."

The timing of Jones' injury couldn't have been worse. Facing the Arizona Cardinals, he originally sprained his ankle on his first snap of the first preseason game of the year. 

Jones was lost for the remainder of the game and sat out the following week as well while on the mend.

Prior to the Packers' third preseason game, Jones returned to practice but then aggravated his injury, setting him back even further.

He never missed another game, Jones simply wasn't the same player. He never played in so much as half the team's snaps in a single game last season, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and only on two occasions played more than a third of the defensive snaps.

Yes, it was a trying rookie campaign, but Jones' raw talent is undeniable. Given a dose of good health, the sky is the limit for a player of his caliber.

"Getting him back in the offseason, I feel he’s one of those second year players who will take a huge jump," said McCarthy. "That will be my expectations for him.”

Even before the team's offseason program began, Jones was doing his best to make sure the upcoming year would be a success.

Some players go to warmer climates when the season is over, but not Jones. According to the Compton native, he put on his earbuds and listened to the theme from Rocky while working out in the snow of Green Bay.

"It was cold, but I had fun and got after it," said Jones.

Gone from last season are some of the roadblocks to playing time, fellow of defensive linemen such as Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, both of whom remain on the open market as free agents.

Jones will be looked at as a much heavier part of the defensive line rotation in 2014 and will try to build off last year's 3.5 sacks.

In June, all Jones can do is continue to work. Until the pads come on during training camp, there's little more he can do to prove that his rookie season was an abnormality. For now, the grind continues.

"Just to make sure I was getting healthy every day and just progressing every day, that's all I could pretty much do," said Jones. "I learned probably a long time ago playing football, you can set goals but if you're going to set your goals high, you got to make sure that you're working hard so those goals can come true."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

Photo: Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones by Benny Sieu of USA TODAY Sports.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Double digit sacks this year.

COW's picture

stop it.

The TKstinator's picture

My cornflakes are all out of piss. Could you help a guy out?

COW's picture

yeah-yeah, i'll admit... i have a tendency to lean toward the negative side of things, but even the rosiest of Packers fans have to agree that this is a ridiculous statement.

Bearmeat's picture

"Lean towards??"

You have fallen off the cliff of negativity since 2011.

BradHTX's picture

"i'll admit... i have a tendency to lean toward the negative side of things"

*smile*

This is one of most awesome-est understatements I've read, ever. Like, up there with "The Titanic had a problem with an ice cube."

I actually don't think Jones will have double-digit sacks either. But he doesn't need to. Barring injuries (knock on wood) I think CM3 gets 10+, while Peppers, Daniels, DJones, Perry, and Neal each get 5-10. Add 1-5 each for Raji (yes, I'm serious), Thornton, Hawk, BJones, Bradford, and scattered among the players in the secondary, and I think a 45+ sack season is very possible.

Bearmeat's picture

Hell.. I'd settle for moving the QB off his spot on 3rd down while keeping pass catchers covered for 4 seconds on a consistent basis...

RC Packer Fan's picture

I am probably in the minority, but I saw a lot of stuff from Jones that I liked. He was in a number of sack plays, but was a step behind Mathews or others. So he didn't get the stats, but he was right there many times.

I had heard but never was confirmed that Jones dropped a decent amount of weight as the season wore on. It sounded as if he just wore down at the end which would explain why he didn't play as much.

I think we will see a much improved player this year. I expect Jones to have a breakout year. Similar to how Daniels broke out.

I really like having Peppers, Daniels, Jones, Mathews as the 4 on the line in some pass rushing packages.. Provides a lot of pass rushers.

I can't wait for the Psycho with Raji or Daniels as the NT, Peppers, Jones, Perry, Neal and Mathews all roaming around, not knowing where the pressure is coming from....

Stroh's picture

The report of him losing weight, if true would have significantly hindered him as the season progressed. It was reported that he was down between 270-275 which would have hindered his ability to help in any way vs the run. The article was on Acme Packing Co, web page and the author only identified and unnamed NFL source.

A 34 DE simply can't play at that light a weight and would make sense since his snap count went down significantly during the season. Its not unusual for rookie DL and OL to lose weight either. Metabolism, diet, and the amount of on field work all contribute. Its actually difficult to eat the number of calories needed during an NFL season. Your talking about eating in excess or 6 or 7 thousand calories a day. You literally have to force yourself to eat when your not hungry to try to maintain weight.

Assuming Datone can maintain his weight and takes the year 2 jump in play, I expect a 7-10 sack season for him playing 34 DE and rushing the QB at DT in passing situations. That would be a very successful sophomore campaign for Datone.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Thanks Stroh. I knew I saw/read/heard it somewhere, but couldn't remember where.

yeah, if he did indeed lose that much weight, it is very understandable why he wore down towards the end of the season and why his total number of snaps went down.

I saw enough out of him where I think he could be really good.

I agree to that if he can maintain his weight and stays injury free that he could have a big year this year. I thought the same that he could be in the 7-10 sack range. Especially when they have Peppers and Mathews drawing attention, and teams do have to focus on Mike Daniels, along with others.

COW's picture

yes - you are in the minority on this.

Bearmeat's picture

No. No he's not. Jones was drafted in the 1st round for a reason. He's got the raw skill. Very few rookie DL make an impact. Let's wait until after this year to judge.

It's just unfortunate how many of the high defensive picks have been hurt so much....

RC Packer Fan's picture

exactly right. give rookies time to develop.

So many people want to get rid of guys cuz they weren't all pro players their rookie year. Well the truth is, not many are.

Clay Zombo's picture

Jones played about 15% of the defensive snaps last year and probably half of that on a bum ankle and still racked up 3.5 sacks.

IMO Its a very good bet that he will at the very least double that amount of playtime this season and when you factor his expected improvement from year 1 to year 2 and the fact that he might not see a double team all season, 7 sacks doesn't seem too unreasonable. 10 may be high but not unreachable.

Maybe to you, in your world where the sun never shines.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Also factor in Mathews drawing attention. Peppers drawing attention, and teams are going to be watching for Daniels after last year.

Jones will have a lot of opportunities that is for sure.

COW's picture

Sorta think Matthews' best days are behind him.
That thumb's going to be a major problem.
Injuries are just piling up with this guy.

He'll flash... but he's not someone you can count on being available and at full strength when the sh*t hits the fan.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I do share concerns with Mathews thumb injury. I hope it isn't going to become a constant problem. That is a hard injury to have especially for a guy who uses his hands as much as he does.

side note: do you like your own comments?

Bearmeat's picture

Yes. Yes he does.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Hate to partially agree with COW, but I can't help but remember that CM broke a thumb and a metacarpal (separate incidents) in college. CM has always been praised for the violence with which he uses his hands. It is an important part of his game. Not sure if these incidents were just freak injuries, like hitting his thumb on someone's helmet. Right now I still expect CM to return to elite status.

RC Packer Fan's picture

this actually made me laugh. I knew it was coming especially from Cow.

I just know from a lot of comments during and after the season, alot weren't high on Jones. I am. I know some others are.

People need to realize that not every player comes in and lights it up their rookie year. Most take 2-3 years to develop.

Lets remember that and give rookies, that time to develop.

COW's picture

I understand it takes time to develop.
But you would think that he would have shown SOMETHING.
Put it this way - you had to look to see if he was on the field. Some players make themselves visible... others just sort of blend in.

Jones just sort of blends in.

He'll end up being a serviceable guy. But he'll never be a difference maker. This team has too many serviceable guys and not enough playmakers.

RC Packer Fan's picture

See to me he did flash. He has flash plays. I don't know for sure, but there were a number of plays that he was in on, where he was a split second late to getting the stat.

Also I was impressed with his ability to play OLB in the 49ers game. I honestly would have liked to have seen him play the rest of the game when he went in there... He showed versatility, which i like.

I fully expect him to take a major jump from year 1 - 2.

Clay Zombo's picture

The 2 weeks of training camp before Datone's ankle injury, he stood out plenty. If you were able to watch him at practice or even read what others saw at practice you would know that. When he got hurt on his first snap in his first preseason game, from that point on I never saw the same guy.

How many rookies who miss a big chunk of TC and the preseason ever make a large Impact their 1st season? Probably not many.

BradHTX's picture

In what twisted version of the English language is 3.5 sacks in 15% of snaps played not the definition of the word "SOMETHING"?

zeke's picture

See: the Dictionary of Trolling.

Point Packer's picture

Good.

Clay Zombo's picture

For just one season I would love to see all of the Pack's 1st round picks stay healthy for a change. Its unreal just how unlucky this team has been with multiple injuries to almost all of their 1st rounders since Thompson became the GM.

I won't make any predictions for Datone Jones but with 3.5 sacks in very limited playtime I would not be surprised if he doubled or tripled his production with more time on the field.

COW's picture

Ha Ha's doomed.

Hope Hyde can actually play safety.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Hyde can't be any worse then Jennings can he?

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

In Cowville everyone is worse than Jennings.

Stroh's picture

In CowVille anyone on the Packers Sucks Rocks! Even the best QB in the NFL is "good".

JimTaylor31's picture

I liked Jones when we drafted him and still like him. Quick, strong, good motor. I'm not concerned about last year so much as it's rare for a DL to make much of an impact as a rookie anyhow. I think we just get too high expectations for rookies and easily discouraged when they don't play like Pro-Bowlers in their first year. I'd very surprised if we don't see a very noticable upswing from Jones this year.

COW's picture

The part that gets me is that another rookie was taking Jones' snaps.

Bearmeat's picture

... And that rookie looks like he'll be a great player for years to come.

Let's wait another year to judge Jones.

HankScorpio's picture

Why would it "get you" that the Packers found a DL in the 5th round that could contribute a little as a rookie? That's a good thing.

Stroh's picture

Its not a good thing for CowTurd... He's not a Packers fan!

Imma Fubared's picture

That does not surprise me in the least.

Evan's picture

June 9, 6:57 p.m.
"yeah, i'll admit... i have a tendency to lean toward the negative side of things..."

June 9, 6:58 p.m.
"Ha Ha's doomed."

RC Packer Fan's picture

"yeah, i'll admit... i have a tendency to lean toward the negative side of things..."

I maybe wrong, but isn't that the most positive thing he has said in a while?

Tundraboy's picture

Maybe this year COW will eat CROW

Stroh's picture

Cow's don't eat meat. No crow in his diet! Can you settle for some hay?

lucky953's picture

I'll be happy if he starts 12+ games, has 40 tackles, 15 assists and 5 sacks.

Imma Fubared's picture

I too wonder where this guy has been. Had he been a 4th rounder I probably could cut him slack but he was a number one.
If I absolutely had to guess -baring the fact he did have some injury issues, I think the coaches were shocked at how slow he is off the ball.
Having said that I still have him, Perry and Worthy as the 'three buskateers' until they prove otherwise and this is the year they dam well better prove otherwise.

Stroh's picture

Do you know anything? He had an ankle injury that set him back in training camp when he was coming on like gangbusters. Then like a lot of rookie lineman he had trouble maintaining weight. Those issues combined to limit his production last year.

Imma Fubared's picture

Oh ya PS, through the first 12 games last year, FS had him registering 8 tackles and 1 sack and 1 assisted sack. Wow for a first rounder. Ouch!

4thand1's picture

Take a pill and relax. Late 1st rounds picks rarely are pro bowlers. The time line for a big jump is ALWAYS 2 to 3 years. Patience is a virtue.

Nick Perry's picture

Take a look at Floyds stats who was picked 23rd, Werners stats who was picked 24th, Jones stats who was picked 26th, and Williams stats who was picked 28th. All 4 players have comparable stats, Jones actually having the most sacks. If you read any scouting report on Jones, they said it would take him a year or two to develop. I mean look at Cameron Jordan on the Saints, he didn't tear up the NFL his 1st season, they rarely do. Because the Packers WIN the draft near the bottom of the round. Not to be rude but get a clue Fubared.

The TKstinator's picture

Go ahead and be rude. We're all wearing our big boy pants.

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