- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ASHBURN — It’s hard to protect a guy who is dedicated towards using every ounce of his 231-pound frame as a battering ram against opposing tacklers, but that’s what the Washington Redskins are trying to do with running back Matt Jones as the regular season approaches.

The former Florida bruiser has made a name for himself during the Redskins‘ preseason with his unforgiving running style, most notably against the Baltimore Ravens, when he rushed for 57 yards on seven carries.

On Tuesday, Jones began stretching with the team at practice, then walked off the field. Coach Jay Gruden said the rookie running back is not dealing with an injury.

Matt just had some rest, going through some treatment,” Gruden said. “Obviously, when he gets the ball, he runs very, very hard. He just needed a little bit of extra time, a little extra treatment room, but there’s no injury there.”

Jones, who had two surgeries on his left knee in 2013 and 2014 while playing for the Gators, also missed Monday’s practice, but insisted he was fine.

While adjusting to the NFL, Jones has followed the sound advice of running back Alfred Morris to take his rehab seriously.

“He gave me some pointers on it,” Jones said. “He just told me to be patient and not to rush anything, don’t be too fast and take care of your body.”

After leading the team in rushing with 139 yards in three preseason games, Jones will sit out Thursday’s finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars, leaving most of the reps to Chris Thompson, Trey Williams and Mack Brown.

Gruden acknowledged taking a cautious approach with Jones while balancing getting the rookie enough playing time so that he’s comfortable before the regular season.

“We’re going to take care of him,” Gruden said. “He’s a very integral part of our running game and our access. We want to make sure we have him for 16 weeks and don’t burn him out. We have to find a happy medium there, get him ready physically, mentally ready to play, but also take care of him.”

If Jones‘ preseason success is any indicator of what’s to come in the regular season, he should complement Morris nicely in the Redskins‘ power-running game. While the team knows what they have in Morris, they’ve taken every opportunity to see what Jones can bring to the offense.

“We’re very excited about what he’s able to do and the balance that he runs with and how powerful he is,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. “He’s going to be a very big part of what we do as well.”

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