Jets pleased with former Jayhawk
Line coach raving about Jones after mincamp
By David Mitchell, Sports Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2004
Adrian Jones was expected to be taken during the first day of last month's NFL draft, but Kansas University's senior left tackle slipped to Day Two and was the final pick of the fourth round.
"No one was as excited as we were to see him sitting there when we picked," New York Jets offensive line coach Doug Marrone said after the Jets concluded their four-day minicamp at Hofstra University. "He's a great kid, and I'm excited to have him."
Marrone and the rest of the Jets' staff got their first look at Jones last week when the NFL club had its first five practices of the offseason.
"I didn't see a lot of negatives," Marrone said. "I see a player with tremendous athleticsm and ability. I'm really looking forward to working with him when he comes back."
Jones is back on campus, finishing work on an economics degree and will graduate May 23. That means the rookie will miss the first week of team workouts, which begin May 15, but he plans to start the Jets' demanding conditioning program on his own.
He'll move his things back to his hometown of Dallas before reporting to New York before an 11-day camp starts June 2.
Marrone said Jones excelled in his first pro practices. He was one of 16 players listed by coach Herman Edwards as "camp standouts" on the team's Web site.
"A.J. did well," Marrone said. "What we try to do in minicamp is give players a lot of information, a lot of the offense. We were very excited about the way he picked things up, his enthusiasm in practice and the way he handled himself."
Jones, who said he doesn't expect to have a contract until "late June or early July," also was upbeat.
"I was real happy with the way I performed," he said. "They throw a lot of plays at you. It was tough to learn so many plays in such a short time."
While Jones (6-foot-5, 302 pounds) looked good in the team's initial workouts, the Jets coaches won't see their rookies in full-contact drills until preseason camp opens July 30.
"It's really hard to evaluate players until we put the pads on," Marrone said. "Right now we're running around out there in helmets and shorts. We're doing things with hands and feet. You can see if a player can put himself in the proper position, but it gets a lot tougher when the pads come on."
The Jets won't know for sure where he fits in until training camp, but the newcomer likely will back up seventh-year pro Jason Fibini (6-7, 304) at left tackle. Fourth-year pro Kareem McKenzie (6-6, 327) also returns at right tackle, and the Jets drafted Sacramento State right tackle Marko Cavka (6-7, 294) in the sixth round.
"The positions are open," Marrone said. "We have a veteran left tackle and a veteran right tackle we're very pleased with. Adrian has to compete at the highest level."
Even if Jones stays second on the depth chart, Marrone expects him to contribute.
"A lot of things could happen before the season," he said. "It's a violent game. If you're a No. 2 player, you have to be prepared because you're always a twisted ankle away from your first NFL start."
Jones played tight end at KU before making the switch to left tackle and bulking up for his senior season, and he still has things to learn about his position.
"Someone did a good job with him," Marrone said. "We're very pleased with where he's at right now. ... We're excited about his athleticsm. We need to get the basics down with him in terms of his stance and his hands. I like to coach new players like they've never played before. We'll work on everything."
Marrone, who is in his third year as an NFL aide after 10 years at the college level, played two seasons in the NFL -- one with Miami and one New Orleans.
"Then I got cut by about eight teams," Marrone said with a laugh. "I don't think Adrian will have that problem."