Going into training camp, Taiwan Jones’ position on the Raiders appeared secure.
Jones has proven to be a valuable special teams player and kick returner, while also providing breakaway quickness and speed as a backup running back.
But as the Raiders head into their final exhibition game of the summer Thursday night against the visiting Seahawks, Jones’ roster status is in doubt.
Rookie running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have looked terrific, and running back George Atkinson III also has performed very well.
In addition, Richard and Washington have shown they can return kickoffs. While Jones has shown he’s still a dangerous kick returner, taking his only kickoff for 33 yards, Richard (two for 57) and Washington (two for 52) also had success. Atkinson, too, has shown in the past he can return punts and kickoffs.
Jones has been solid as a kickoff returner in his NFL career, averaging 24.5 yards per return, though occasionally having fumble problems. That ability was one of the big factors in Jones’ favor going into training camp, and he was confident he’d keep his spot on the roster.
“My mindset heading into the season is that it’s my job,” he told the media. “I am the guy in charge of giving the offense good field position. I take that responsibility seriously.”
The other thing Jones has in his favor is his ability to get downfield on kickoffs and punts as a gunner to make tackles on special teams.
However, will that be enough? What happens Thursday night may go a long way toward determining the future of Jones, Richard and Atkinson. Washington is a lock.
One projection this week has Jones staying on the roster, but barely.
“Ball security issues keep him on the bubble,” wrote Terrance Biggs of the website Cover32.com. “Pro Bowl special teams gunner skills keep him in town.”