Buccaneers’ WR Jones Can Still “Ball”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ wide receiver Julio Jones doesn’t care what narrative the media or anyone else pushes about him. Yes he’s missed 14 games over the previous two seasons with nagging hamstring injuries. But don’t you dare say these injuries have frustrated, nor has the media reporting that his career is in decline.
Jones recently spoke with USA Today Sports following the Buccaneers’ 19-3 victory over the Cowboys.

“I Can Ball”

“So, check this out: The last few years … first of all, I’m never frustrated. That’s just like a weak mentality. But I always got tight. I never actually pulled my hamstring. I’m not on social media; I never speak on nothing. I let everybody create the narrative they want to create about me. It is what it is. I can play. I can ball. That’s all that matters. And that’s behind me.”

The Buccaneers used Jones in multiple ways against the Cowboys. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich dialed up jet sweeps, go routes and everything in between. He lined up wide on some formations and tight on others. Jones ran the entire route tree while playing 52% of the team’s offensive snaps.

“Everything, man,” he said. “Wherever they want to use me at. I’ve got a lot of versatility. It’s good, man. Moving around, defenses can’t get a bead on you, so I love it.”

Head coach Todd Bowles echoed that sentiment, “Julio can play. We keep saying it all along. He got in shape. He got healthy. He’s a warrior. He’s one of those guys that’s going to come out every week and compete.”

Game Recognizes Game

Jones is a rare combination of speed, athleticism and drive. Him joining a stacked Buccaneers’ offense might be the biggest coup of this past offseason. The one trait Jones poseses that nobody talks about is his approach to the game. Jones is all business with a cool, calm demeanor. Bucs’ quarterback Tom Brady talked about this.

“A lot of confidence in him. We’re going to just keep growing and getting better. He’s a true professional and I love working with people like that. It’s important to them and they care a lot.”

Jones is ready to and totally confident he can do whatever it is Brady needs done.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about communication. He says, ‘I want this look’ or ‘that look,’ and I say, ‘Cool. Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen.’ It’s just that simple. There’s no, ‘I can’t do this.’ I can do any and everything. So, it’s just that simple.”

Whatever you do, don’t refer to Jones as old, or losing a step, “For me, it’s not an age thing or a prime thing,” Jones stated. “I feel like I’m just as fast as when I came into the league. I just feel like I have more knowledge of the game by playing the game for so long and going through it, right? With the experience I have, I can just go in, pick up the offense.”

Jones continued,

“It’s just amazing. I feel good. I’m part of a great team. And a great receiver room, too. Everybody in that room can ball and play. For me to be able to come around these guys, and the talent they have, and giving me those opportunities to take those jet sweeps and do different things like that, I just appreciate them in that room, appreciate them letting me get those opportunities.”

A lot of buzz was created around Jones selecting a new jersey number as a Buccaneer. His trademark No. 11 is already spoken for by backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Jones isn’t superstitious or sentimental when it comes to jersey numbers.

“It’s just a number, man. I didn’t want to take nobody out of their number. It was, ‘Whatever’s available, I’m going to take it.’ No significance.” Jones continued, “I always had a motto, man: I make the number, the number don’t make me,” Jones stated. “That’s how I go about it.”

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