Raiders' Jones May Add Extra Value

Indications are that cornerback and special teams standout may get work at running back, too, to add to roster versatility

Recently, Raiders cornerback and special teams standout Taiwan Jones posted a picture of himself on Twitter.

The photo showed a new, bulked-up version of Jones after working out six weeks with a special coach at a gym. He noted that he’d gone from 180 pounds to 205, and gave a shout out to the coach for “allowing me to refocus and push myself beyond my limits.”

Now it appears Jones is up for other changes, too.

The former fourth-round pick of the Raiders in 2011 from Eastern Washington came into the NFL as a quick but small running back. He got very few opportunities to carry the ball, however. From 2011-2013, he had just 27 carries for 117 yards.

Eventually, the Raiders switched him to cornerback, where he played a reserve role.

His true value came on special teams, however, where his speed, willingness to hit and tackling abilities made him a valuable performer. In 2013, his work on punt and kickoff coverage earned kudos from then-head coach Dennis Allen.

“If he’s not the best special teams player in the legue, he’s one of the best special teams players in the league,” Allen told reporters. “He’s a difference-maker in all of our coverage units.”

It was a role Jones embraced as he learned how to play cornerback. Said Jones: “The goal is to make a difference wherever I can. Right now, that’s on special teams.”

But in 2014, Jones – who had just signed a three-year extension – played just one game because of a season-ending foot injury incurred in the season opener.

Now Jones is recovered and bulked up and could be in for a more expanded role in 2015 under a new coaching staff. 

Bill Williamson, who covers the Raiders for, noted that Jones was shown in photos working out with offensive players during the team’s first day of its offseason workout program Tuesday, and that a caption on the Raiders’ website listed him as a “running back/cornerback.”

Certainly, the extra bulk could help Jones as a ball carrier if it doesn’t impact his quickness. But the extra strength could also help as a tackler on defense and special teams.

So what does it mean? We may not know for a while. But Williamson has a theory.

Wrote Williamson: “I truly don’t think it really matters if Jones plays at running back or cornerback. His major role is on special teams. I think the new Oakland coaching staff is being flexible with Jones’ position as the best way to help him make the 53-man roster. So, they will try to squeeze him onto the roster any way it works numbers wise.”

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