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Matt Jones Will Work Like 'The Starter' In Offseason


After getting a first taste of the NFL as a rookie in 2015, Redskins running back Matt Jones says he'll train hard in the offseason with the possibility of a bigger role coming in 2016.

When the Washington Redskins selected University of Florida running back Matt Jones in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the thought was that he could be a nice complementary asset to incumbent starter Alfred Morris.

While Morris continued to be the team's starter this past season, Jones at times showed he could take on No. 1 duties with no problems.

That started in a Week 2 victory over the St. Louis Rams when Jones tallied 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

But for as well as he did at times this season, Jones isn't going to get complacent.

For starters, Jones understands he needs to cut down on his turnovers, as he had five fumbles (four lost) on 144 carries.

The first of those fumbles came on what appeared to be a touchdown run against the New York Giants in Week 3, but Jones failed to maintain possession of the ball as he extended for the end zone.

"I feel like my regular season went OK for my first season," Jones said. "You know, I just threw out some turnovers, you know, I could have been better in some situations. But for the most part, I feel like I helped make some plays around the offense. Just helping Kirk [Cousins] out, be an outlet for him throughout the run game. I mean it went great. He had a great season this year and I'm glad to turn it around a little bit. So, man, I'm thankful for this season."

Jones said one of the biggest improvements he noticed in his game was how he ran the ball.

"Just get downhill, man," Jones said of where he saw progress in his play. "Sometimes coming out of college I was kind of inconsistent with getting downhill, but I think I kind of proved myself of getting downhill, being more of a physical back and definitely with catching out of the backfield man, that's the biggest part of my game I learned this year, just being an outlet for Kirk. When everything was locked up downfield, you got an outlet to come down to."

With his first full offseason as an NFL player now upon him, Jones must first work towards getting healthy before being able to dive into his workouts.

Jones missed the last two regular season games and the Redskins' home playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers with a hip injury.

Check out these photos of University of Florida running back Matt Jones, the Redskins' 95th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

"I would say I'm at 80 percent right now," Jones said. "So [I'll] probably take two or three weeks off to get treatment in Philadelphia, so I mean I should be great after that."

Not being able to be out on the field for the Redskins' first playoff game in three seasons "hurt" Jones.

"Just not being out there Sunday man and seeing that crowd, playoff atmosphere, it hurt, man" Jones said. "All I could do is be the biggest cheerleader, man. It's going to stick with me this whole off-season man. To have that feeling inside of me that I didn't play that playoff game and I want to get back. I have a lot of work to do this offseason."

While Jones was the primary backup to Morris this season, he may be thrust into a larger role next season.

Morris just completed his rookie contract, and while he still holds the franchise record for rushing yards in a single season set his rookie season, the two-time Pro Bowler has seen his numbers steadily decrease over the years.

In 2015, Morris had just 806 total yards of offense and one touchdown in 16 games, while Jones had 794 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in 13 games.

"When I come back, man, I'm going to work like I'm going to be the starter, you know what I mean?" Jones said. "But football is football, and business is business, so I'm just worried about myself."




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