Taiwan Jones is one of the most underrated special teams players in the NFL, moving from a bottom of the depth chart running back to the cornerback position, Jones does most of his work as one of the speediest gunners on special teams coverage in the league. Set for an expected increase in his role in 2014, Jones spoke to the Raiders website recently to discuss what he feels is a new era for the Oakland Raiders leading up to 2014 Training Camp.
Jones told Raiders.com that he has been telling anybody who asks, including his parents, that he feels that the Raiders are a different franchise in 2014 compared to his first years with the team that were largely spent overhauling a roster that was in salary cap hell. Now with the team finally adding talent instead of subtracting it, Jones feels that things are going to be completely different once the Raiders step onto the field in 2014.
“That was something I told my parents and people when they ask,” Jones said, via the team’s official website. “I truly believe that it’s different here.”
With Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley bringing former Super Bowl champions to a defense that already had one of the best leaders in the game in Charles Woodson in the fold in addition to former San Francisco 49ers Carlos Rogers and Tarrel Brown, Jones told the Raiders website that the veteran leadership so far has been as positive as possible in pushing the team as a whole to get better and work as hard as possible to prepare for the season.
“When you have veterans that have been in the game a long time and that have been able to accomplish the goals that we’re trying to accomplish this year, it definitely feels good because you get to see and hear advice from those guys and hear them say that we’re close and that it’s possible,” said Jones. “It makes you want to work that much harder. You see how hard they’re working and it just carries on. It’s a ripple effect for everyone.”
Jones also mentioned that the veterans biggest impact has been on preaching the virtues of two of the most important aspects of improving as a player, watching film and hitting the weight room. Doing the extra stuff that the majority of the NFL’s top players and teams do to ensure that they stay at the top.
“There’s a lot of guys staying and doing extra; putting in extra work and watching extra film,” he said. “Doing the things that they don’t have to do, but things that you expect from a championship team.”
Beyond the team’s preparations and new attitude, Jones says that he has his own personal motivations in addition to the motivation of having proven winners alongside him on the defense. Mentioning that his AFC Pro Bowl snub as a motivation for the 2014 season, hoping to make the league recognize what many in Oakland already know by making it clear that he is one of the best special teams players in football.
Jones mentioned that the Raiders coaches backed Jones as a deserving Pro Bowler, faith in the Eastern Washington product that Jones says he won’t take for granted.
“Most definitely. That definitely was on my mind (the Pro Bowl snub), even last year, but this year more so because I have my coaches backing me up. I have to back their word up. I have to work that much harder at practice and prove it out on the field, so it’s definitely on my mind.”
Jones isn’t the first Raider to talk about the impact that the new look Raiders have felt, and he won’t be the last as Training Camp will be littered with similar positive comments as naturally the majority of comments leading up to any NFL season in any NFL city are mostly positive. However, there has been a genuine feeling about the buzz coming out of Oakland that was not there in recent years. After trying to just remain competitive with rosters filled with dead cap space and a lack of depth, the Raiders have their eyes set out on shocking the world in 2014. Something that fans should be equally as excited about as the Raiders roster appears to be.