Thomas Jones Hits the Ground Running


Thomas Jones takes a workmanlike approach to the game of football.

As Jones puts it, "Training camp is training camp." It doesn't matter who the coach is, or the perception from the outside that one team's camp is tougher than another. Jones does what he knows best, and that is work hard.

It is this approach that has ingratiated him with his new teammates.

"We all know what type of player Thomas Jones has been in this league," QB Chad Pennington said. "I've known Thomas since 2000. We trained together for the combine in Florida. He's a hard worker, number one, and he works extremely hard and is a true professional."

For tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a fellow University of Virginia alum, the fact that Jones was a fellow "Wahoo" was enough proof for him.

"Thomas is a great running back. He's a Virginia guy, so you got to expect great things from him," Ferguson said.

Jones in turn has become very comfortable with his new team just four months into his career as a Jet.

"I'm excited about working with Chad. I've known him for a long time and he's a smart guy. he's a good leader, so I look forward to working with him this year," said Jones. "Just to be out here is exciting for me. There are some great guys out here. They work hard and are really good athletes, really good coaches and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

It didn't take long for him to win over the crowd of about 1,800 fans early in the first practice of training camp.

During 11-on-11 drills, Jones showed the combination of quickness and power that made him a 1,210-yard back with the Bears last season, bursting through the line of scrimmage for 15 yards while absorbing hits with his strong frame.

While Jones was impressive early on in practice, he put the ball on the ground once during 9-on-7 drills. About 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, DE Shaun Ellis surprised him with some late shoves before stripping the ball away from the back, who presumably thought the play was over.

The consequence: a lap around the practice field.

"Coach Mangini runs practices the way they're supposed to be run," Jones said. "We go through each drill and if you don't get it right, you do it over."

Yet Mangini admitted after practice that the hitting in that particular drill "was a little overzealous" for the first day of training camp.

A few plays later during the same drill, fellow RB Leon Washington lost his footing and fell hard on his chest, fumbling the handoff in the process.

Jones, seeing that Washington was in for the same punishment, ran the lap alongside the second-year player, even waiting for Washington while he lost his breakfast halfway through the lap.

It was an example of a veteran being there for a younger player even during an awkward situation.

"Thomas has been a really positive influence and it goes back to what our research showed on him," head coach Eric Mangini said. "Every team that he was at had great things to say about him and that's been our experience. That's why we brought him here. Outside of his abilities, there's great character."

In a short time with a new team, Jones has proven to be the whole package, driven by his passion for football, even during a hot morning practice on the opening of training camp in July.

"It's work every day," Jones said, "but we're fortunate enough to be playing a sport we love and coaching a sport we love."

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