Oakland Raiders Experimenting With Taiwan Jones Return to Running Back


Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Taiwan Jones (22) carries the ball on a kickoff return against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Usually voluntary veteran’s minicamp goes by with little headlines other than the usual offseason program quotes about “working hard to compete for Super Bowls” or “coming together as a team” that fill one of the duller portions of the preparation schedule for the NFL season.

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However the Oakland Raiders veteran’s minicamp has brought one intriguing talking point as new head coach Jack Del Rio may be moving one of the team’s versatile role players back to one of his former positions. Special teams weapon Taiwan Jones already getting in work at running back after switching to cornerback during Dennis Allen’s tenure with the team.

Jones hit the IR for 2014, making his first season under a new longterm deal a bit of disappointment for a player who has earned his way into the NFL as a hard worker on special teams who has yet to catch on as a regular on either offense or defense. Now a new coaching staff is trying to see if his calling is back at a position he was drafted to play in Oakland, getting in some looks as a rusher after transitioning to corner over the past two seasons.

From Raiders.com:

"Taiwan Jones has moved back to running back. The Raiders originally drafted Jones as a running back out of Eastern Washington in 2011 and moved him to cornerback in 2013. Jones was injured in the regular season opener last season and missed 15 games."

Jones has had little impact in what little touches he has been given as a running back with the Raiders. Getting 16 touches in his rookie season for 73 yards before a 21 yard season in 2012 that signalled the beginning of his transition to defense. Jones appeared to be on the way to becoming a defensive player in 2013, but his injury stalled whatever plans he had to build on what was his best season in 2014 after the aforementioned IR spell that took away his mission to become a more regular defender.

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If Jones is ever going to become a consistent player on the Raiders roster he will need to find a role where he can produce outside of on special teams. His talent as a gunner on special teams may guarantee him a spot on the 53 man roster for now, but if he is going to impress a new coaching staff he has to show that he can be both a special teams asset and a player who can be a depth piece when given the occasional snap.

Whether that is at running back or at corner, Jones is going to have to find a permanent position this offseason. For now it looks like it will be at running back as Del Rio and the staff are monitoring what Jones can do for them in 2015 by getting an extremely early look at his running back skills. It may or may not lead to a change back to offense come 2015 Training Camp, but for now Jones’ position journey will be one of the enticing early storylines to follow when the Raiders get on the practice field.