Archive for Monday, August 8, 2005

Ex-Jayhawk Jones tested with Jets

Offensive lineman goes head-to-head with Pro Bowler Ellis daily

August 8, 2005

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— Sunday afternoons may turn out to be the easy part for Adrian Jones, the Jets' new starting right tackle.

Jones, a tight end-turned-left tackle-turned-right tackle, is getting a baptism by fire this summer as he goes against Pro Bowl defensive end Shaun Ellis every day in training camp.

Jones, a second-year pro out of Kansas University, is replacing the departed Kareem McKenzie, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Giants this offseason.

Ellis, one of the best all-around defensive ends in the NFL, is an intense practice player with a short fuse.

He averages at least two training camp fights each summer and already has had one, though not against Jones.

"The greatest asset A.J. has going for him right now is he's practicing against a Pro-Bowl player in Shaun Ellis," Jets offensive line coach Doug Marrone said. "You can get a pretty good evaluation."

Jones, a fourth-round pick who survived a life-threatening car accident in 1999, is a bit undersized at 6-4 and 296 pounds, especially when you compare him to the mountainous 6-7, 330-pound McKenzie. There are some concerns about Jones in the running game because he doesn't have the bulk.

The Jets, who are a right-handed-running team, ran primarily behind McKenzie and tight end Anthony Becht last season. Both are gone.

Jones, however, has something else that will serve him well: athleticism. He has the speed and agility. Though McKenzie may be a better run blocker, Jones is a superior pass blocker. McKenzie struggled in pass blocking last season.

"(Jones) has quick feet," Ellis said. "He can move pretty well. He can get out and set up pretty fast. He's pretty strong. He's going to be all right."

After McKenzie's departure, the Jets immediately named Jones the starter, although he didn't play a down on offense last season and didn't switch to left tackle until midway through the year.

Jones' smooth footwork comes from his days as a tight end. At Kansas, he was switched to left tackle during spring ball prior to his senior season and was a natural, starting all 13 games. He says the move to right tackle has been no major adjustment.

Football, though, was an afterthought for Jones at one point in his life. In 1999, during the Thanksgiving Day weekend of his first season at Kansas, he was returning to school from his hometown of Dallas when the 1993 Honda Accord he was driving blew a tire and rolled over twice on the Kansas Turnpike near Emporia.

Jones spent three days in intensive care with a bruise on the left side of his brain and a severe concussion. Doctors feared he wouldn't play football again. His brother and a friend, who were also in the car, suffered only minor bruises.

"It's always good to have something to feed off of," Jones said. "I try to look back on (the accident) and say that if I can get through that then I can get through anything else."

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