Taiwan Jones is back at running back this summer, trying to win a job on the Raiders roster.
General manager Reggie McKenzie made the decision over the offseason to move Jones back to running back, after a short two-season detour to cornerback.
McKenzie recently told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that is was “a no-brainer” to move Jones back to his original position, “especially with the way Bill Musgrave is going to use him.”
Musgrave, the team’s new offensive coordinator, apparently will design some set plays to use Jones’ speed – the best among all Oakland running backs (he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash out of college). As Tafur noted, Musgrave used a similar type of player -- the small but super fast wide receiver Percy Harvin -- on special plays when the two were in Minnesota.
Jones, who has gained 20 pounds since joining the Raiders out of Eastern Washington as a fourth-round pick in 2011, is now 200 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame but still super quick. Though he’s had just 27 career carries in the NFL (for 117 yards), he’s been terrific as a special teams gunner.
Jones has said that returning to the backfield is “a good fit.”
Jones is likely to be used again on special teams and in creative ways by Musgrave, but one thing the coaching staff wants him to do is take better care of the ball. In the past, Jones has had trouble fumbling in practices. He’s also fumbled three times in regular-season games.
Already in the first few days of training camp Jones has had the problem pop up again. In a goal-line drill this week, he lost a fumble – a cause for concern.
But after missing nearly all of 2014 with an injury, he could be an impact player on special teams and on offense.