Sidney Jones Takes Big Step Toward Return
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Before the University of Washington's pro day back in March, scouts around the NFL were raving about Sidney Jones, a top-15 talent in a league where cornerback is one of the more important positions.
Fate wasn't kind to Jones on the day, however, as he attempted to validate the faith in him by showing off his prodigious physical gifts. While flashing his impressive movement skills, Jones shifted out of his backpedal and it was gone, his left Achilles' tendon had ruptured.
Jones' lofty draft status took a tumble as did his pocketbook in an impatient league which isn't all that keen on "redshirting" first-round draft choices but Jones is just too gifted for someone not to bite.
And that someone turned out to be the Eagles, who may have considered taking Jones at No. 14 overall had he been healthy. Instead, Howie Roseman was able to select two first-round talents by getting Derek Barnett in Round 1 and following it up with the Jones pick in the second round.
Jones took a major step in his recovery on Wednesday, taking part in his first NFL practice.
“I haven’t played football since my last college game,” Jones said. “This is just the first step. I can’t wait for the future.”
Actually, the first step was the arduous rehab that got Jones in the position to be in the Eagles' practice bubble alongside his teammates on a cold day in December as they prepare to try to clinch a first-round bye against the 2-11 New York Giants on Sunday.
It's still unlikely that Jones sees the playing field this season.
The clock has started on the 21 days Philadelphia has to decide whether to activate Jones and put him in on the active roster or shut him down for the season.
The play of the Eagles' CBs in Jones' absence -- Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Patrick Robinson and fellow rookie Rasul Douglas -- make the latter the likely path forward barring injury in the final three games.
Right now it's about seeing where Jones is at from a physical standpoint after the injury.
“I’ll see him more on special teams and service teams, and see where he’s at,” coach Doug Pederson said. “We’ve watched him through his progression and training these last few weeks and now we just want to see him in football conditions, the true transition of stopping and starting and making a play on a ball."
Jones' first "action" as an Eagle saw him putting on a red pinnie, sporting No. 21 in special teams drills, mimicking Giants' star safety Landon Collins.
And for Jones, he can finally see his destination after the long road back.
“It’s been a long road to even play football. I can’t even describe how happy and excited I am," he said. "It’s been a long road. I’m just happy to be back with my team.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen