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Thomas Jones Comes On Strong


One word comes to mind when you think of Thomas Jones: Excitement.

After being acquired from the Bears in a March trade, the star runner is elated to be in New York.

"I am just excited to be in this situation. We have some great players on this team and we have some great coaches on this team," Jones said following today's OTA session. "I am just excited to be part of it."

When Chad Pennington was asked about the team's new feature back, the veteran quarterback couldn't hold back his delight.

"Thomas Jones? He's an exciting player," he said. "I think everyone knows what type of running back he is and the exciting things he's done throughout his career."

Hours before the scorcher, head coach Eric Mangini smiled when he spoke about the player who has averaged 1,272.5 rush yards the past two seasons.

"I have been pleased with Thomas," Mangini said. "When we decide to make a trade, we do a lot of research on people's character and consistency. Regardless of what team he was with or who we talked to, the recurring theme was his work ethic."

Jones, sporting a white jersey and green No. 20 on his chest, displayed explosion in the workout that was open to the media. He also revealed some large pythons — that's what Hulk Hogan used to call his biceps — with his sleeves rolled up at Weeb Ewbank Hall.

"Every time I go down to the weight room, he's there and you'll see today that there's real progress in terms of his muscle mass," Mangini said. "His work ethic on the field has been really impressive. I like the way he practices, the way he carries himself and the way he studies. Those things have all been very positive."

Pennington told reporters that Jones' reputation in the weight room is well-deserved.

"As you guys can see, he's a physical specimen. The best thing about Thomas is his work ethic," he said. "He's never the first guy out; he's always working on something else. He's a true professional."

Jones, the seventh overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, is trying to familiarize himself with his new offense. His first three professional seasons were spent in Arizona, and that experience could help the learning process.

"I kind of ran a similar offense when I was in Arizona, so terms are the major things you have to pick up on," he said. "My [position] coach, Jimmy Raye, is doing a great job of making sure I know what I am doing when I get out there. The offensive coaches are doing a really good job of having us prepared for practice, so everything is going well."

Although Jones put up big numbers the past three seasons in Chicago, he believes the Jets' offensive system will give him opportunities to showcase more of his skills.

"There is a lot of opportunity for me to get the ball in the open field and do some things out there," he said. "Chicago's offense was a little more ... I don't want to say we didn't have a lot of opportunities to get the ball, but we were pretty predictable as far as the running game and our philosophy."

The 5'10", 215-pounder complimented his new squad's firepower, and he offers a number of ways to contribute. Jones averaged 39 receptions with the Bears and caught a career-high 56 balls in '04.

"I consider myself a pretty good receiver. I take a lot of pride in catching the ball and pass protection," he said. "I take a lot of pride in trying to be a complete back. If they throw it to me, I have a lot of confidence that I can catch it."

Jones is now on his fourth team. The productive runner, who racked up 112 yards on the ground and added four catches in Super Bowl XLI, appears to be a perfect fit with the Jets.

"Everyone on this team gets along really well," he said. "We have a nice chemistry and a nice nucleus, so I'm just glad to be a part of it."

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