Redskins running back Matt Jones has the skillset needed to excel in Washington's offense. With an increased workload in 2016 comes a focus on his ball security and ability to stay healthy.
Hindered by a hip injury at the tail-end of a productive rookie season, Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones recently had surgery to correct the issue.
Not only does Redskins head coach Jay Gruden see Jones returning to full health soon, he views him as the team's No. 1 back moving forward.
"We're excited about Matt and glad he got it taken care of, you could see it bothering him a little bit down the stretch," Gruden said last month at the NFC Coaches Breakfast in Boca Raton, Fla. "And you're wondering, 'Is there really anything wrong with him or not?' And you find out there really is, and we get it fixed and addressed and I think he'll come back ready to roll."
Jones, who was drafted in the third round last season out of the University of Florida, was, at times, the team's top running back in 2015, as he chewed into Alfred Morris' carries total while tallying a few 100-yard games.
Against the St. Louis Rams in a Week 2 24-10 victory, Jones carried the ball 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
His first career touchdown was a 39-yard run in the first quarter.
Then later in the season, Jones finished the Redskins' victory over the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 15 with 131 receiving yards, highlighted by a 78-yard touchdown grab off a screen play.
But while Jones had his moments, he also has quite a bit to work on, too.
He fumbled the ball five times during the season, losing four of them, while also having four games in which he averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry.
Check out the top photos of Matt Jones from the 2015 season.
Alfred Morris also isn't around anymore either to help shoulder the load, recently signing with the Dallas Cowboys on a two-year deal.
"Matt played obviously well we're very excited about him," Gruden said. "We let a heck of a running back and a very productive running back go because we have Matt. We need him to protect the ball a little bit more. He's a big strong powerful back. That I think can handle the work load, time will tell on that. We're taking a bit of a gamble here but based on our professional opinions we believe he can handle it and be very, very effective at it."
While Jones doesn't have the experience Morris had, Gruden believes he has the strengths commonly found in other successful running backs, though.
"He's got the measurables that's for sure," Gruden said. "That doesn't always translate but we'll see. We like Matt, smart football player and runs very, very hard obviously. Now we just have to make sure the ball security is there, he can catch the ball out the back field. Very good solid football player we have high hopes for."