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Trust Still In Matt Jones, But Fumbles An Issue


Matt Jones has shown capable of carrying the load both as a runner and pass-catcher this season, but he's fumbled four times on the season already, something the Redskins want to fix.

The Redskins aren't losing trust in rookie running back Matt Jones after his league-high fourth lost fumble in Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, but they know it's a situation that needs to be addressed.

"He wants every play to be a touchdown, and you love that competitive fire about him," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We just have to continue to teach him how to secure the ball and the importance of that ball. It is an issue. You can't turn the ball over if you are a running back no matter how big you are or how little you are, you have to protect the football. We are not going to give up on Matt, but he has to understand the importance of that ball."

The fumble against the Panthers occurred in the middle of the second quarter when the game was still a competitive battle, as the Redskins were trailing just 21-14 when Jones, running to the left, had the ball stripped from his possession by Luke Kuechley, who would also recover the ball.

The Panthers would go on to score a touchdown six plays later.

Of his four lost fumbles this year, three of them have been non-contact situations, an easily correctable facet of his game.

"He's trying to gain the extra yard, stick the ball out," Gruden said. "[Sunday] he was hurdling the pile and it just barely got poked out. I think it's just a matter of him continuing to focus more on the ball pre-contact, also when there is contact."

Gruden said ball security is something running backs coach Randy Jordan focuses on each day during the individual drills portion of practices.

Now it needs to stick with Jones, especially as the team looks to gain their footing once again in the run game.

"He spends the first part of individual every day working on ball security drills and we'll continue to work on it," Gruden said. "He's got to understand as a running back in the National Football League, once you have this M.O. [modus operandi], the only way to shake it is to protect the ball. If you don't protect the ball then you won't be a running back in the NFL for very long. We have total faith in him that he's going to fix this but he has to himself make sure he understands the importance of the ball. All running backs do."

Through his first nine games as a professional -- he was inactive with an injury against the Atlanta Falcons -- Jones has tallied 90 carries for 332 yards and three touchdowns.

While he's had some impressive performances to date, particularly against the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints, it's the fumbles that stand out when he looks back on his season so far.

"It definitely going to bother me putting the ball on the ground either way I go," Jones said earlier this month. "It's tough looks out there. Sometimes it happens to the best of them and you just ask, 'Why is this happening to me?' Now I got to take that as a man and find a way to get it better."




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