- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2015

Matt Jones made his feelings perfectly clear when he spoke with Alfred Morris for the first time not long after he was drafted by the Washington Redskins. Morris may be the starting running back, Jones acknowledged, but he won’t be accepting a backseat to his new teammate anytime soon.

“We will compete,” Jones said, underscoring his statement with a certain resolution. “I will compete with anybody who’s in front of me.”

Jones, drafted in the third round out of Florida earlier this month, brings a dimension to the backfield that the Redskins haven’t had in some time. The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder is a physical, downhill, smash-mouth runner who can grind out yards while also serving as a threat as a receiver in the passing game.

Displeased with the way his collegiate career developed, Jones left Florida after his junior season, when he rushed for 817 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. He was marginalized in a Gators offense that rotated running backs and rarely utilized his ability to catch passes, having caught just 19 for 100 yards during his three seasons.

“That’s why I’ve got a ton of chips on my shoulder,” Jones said. “My college career wasn’t what I wanted to be, and I thank God for it, but I really want to have a successful career in the NFL, so that’s why I’m really going even harder because I didn’t have the college career that I wanted.”

Those variables had Jones pegged as a potential late-round draft pick, with his selection likely occurring as early as the fourth round. Instead, the Redskins defied those analysts, picking Jones up with the 95th overall pick.

During rookie minicamp this past weekend, Jones showed flashes that he can move well in space, which will help him as a receiver and as a potential third-down back. He’ll compete with Chris Thompson and Silas Redd for that role after Roy Helu signed with the Oakland Raiders in March.

“The thing about Matt is you think of him as a big, power type back, but really Matt’s done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive,” coach Jay Gruden said Saturday. “Making moves on the second level, getting to the second level, in the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers — he’s done some good things. He’s got natural hands.”

Gruden cautioned that Jones‘ drafting won’t necessarily signal a reduced workload for Morris, a former sixth-round pick who has more rushing yards than any other running back in his three years in the league.

If Jones happens to take some of those carries, however, he certainly won’t mind. That’s his intent.

“I think I can add more size to the backfield, more catching out of the backfield, more blocking, protection-wise,” Jones said. “I feel like I can do it all. I feel like I can complement Alfred Morris at the same time. I’m just doing what I can out here for the team.”

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