Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Andre Jones wants to play fast, make progress in Year 2

04112024 OTAs KC51238

Andre Jones Jr. achieved a "lifelong dream" when he made it to the NFL last year. As the No. 233 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, there was no guarantee that he would even make the Washington Commanders' roster, let alone appear in an actual game.

Jones, however, ended up being one of the best stories to come out of Washington's training camp by impressing his coaches during the joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens. He ended up earning a spot on the team's initial 53, appearing in 14 games with two starts.

Now that one of his biggest goals has been a reality for nearly a year, it's time for him to focus on the next one: build on what he learned as a rookie and make a bigger impact.

"It was a lot of learning and a lot of thinking," Jones said of his rookie season. "The only thing I want to do is take the positives out of everything last year."

While Jones, a Second Team All-Sun Belt player in his last season at Louisiana, faced an uphill battle when it came to earning a roster spot, it became clearer by the day that he was getting his coaches' attention with his effort and motor on the edge. That came to a head during Washington's joint practice with the Ravens, when he matched Lamar Jackson stride-for-stride and contained the MVP quarterback for a would-be tackle.

"You got to really emphasize that length because God gave me this, and I got to just put it to work," Jones said during camp. "And for my length, I'm fast. I'm really fast. Not like average. Like, I'm fast."

That play alone wasn't the only reason Jones ended up surviving the cut at the end of camp, but it certainly helped. Jones ended the preseason with three tackles, two of which were for a loss. In the end, Jones was one of the seven defensive ends Washington kept for the start of the 2023 season.

Jones' opportunities after that, however, were limited for the first half of the season. He played just four defensive snaps in the opener against the Arizona Cardinals, and it took him five weeks before he got another shot against the Atlanta Falcons.

There were a few factors at play, one of the biggest being that he was behind starters like Chase Young and Montez Sweat as well as contributors like James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill and Efe Obada. But Jones was honest with himself, too; he was thinking too much, and it was slowing him down.

"I wasn't allowing myself to play fast," Jones said. "When the season started, I was just in the mix. I wasn't standing out anymore. I [had to] accept my role, and...the only thing you is try to do your best at all times and create a bigger role."

Prior to Young and Sweat being traded, Jones spent most of his time on special teams, where he played 250 snaps. That provided a boost for Jones confidence, not just because he was learning how to use the information he saw on tape and apply it on the field, but it was also helping him learn how to play faster at the NFL level.

And if he had a negative play, he avoided dwelling on it so he could focus on improving with his next opportunity.

"It's a next rep mentality," Jones said. "If I wanted to get better, I wanted to try and put good stuff on tape."

Take a look at the top photos of the Washington Commanders going through Phase 2 of their offseason workout program.

Jones got more reps once Young and Sweat were traded. He ended the season with four tackles and three pass breakups along with two starts against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Jones doesn't focus on stats, but he isn't satisfied with those numbers, either. He wants to have a bigger impact on his team, whatever that might be. He has a new chance to show what he can do with a new defensive coaching staff in the building, all of whom are dedicated to helping Jones and his teammates get better.

"They bring more than energy," Jones said. "I can't describe it, but if you're here this year, you're in for a treat. I feel like the organization put together something real great. A lot of the coaches played ball and have been in our shoes.

"When the players play for the coach, that's a dangerous team. I feel like we have something this year."

And no matter what Jones ends up doing to help the team, he wants to do it to the best of his ability.

"I feel like when you're playing for the team and you're giving your all, everybody gets what they want," Jones said. "In this defense, they're saying everybody's gonna eat. It ain't just one person that's gonna eat. Everybody's eating. If you're out there doing what you're supposed to do, good things are going to happen."

Related Content