Sidney Jones' first taste at cornerback in the NFL came Sunday lined up against the 6-2, 220-pound wide receiver Dez Bryant on a third-and-5 in the first quarter.
The pass didn't come Jones' way but it was the first defensive snap in a long time for the rookie, who found out on Saturday that he'd be making his pro debut.
"I can't even describe it. Just a whole bunch of nerves," Jones said following the game. "Juice was going, good juices. It's a blessing."
The 6-0, 181-pound second-round draft choice felt blessed to sink his cleats back on the field after rupturing his Achilles at his Pro Day workout in March just weeks before the NFL Draft. Against the Cowboys, Jones ended up contributing on special teams as well as defense. It was his first game action since December 31, 2016, exactly one year to the day, when his Washington Huskies played in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
"A little bit of rust today. The first game it's going to be a little bit of rust, as expected, but I felt like I did good," Jones said.
His first career tackle came with six minutes to go in the first half when he brought down wide receiver Ryan Switzer after a 6-yard reception. Jones is still acclimating to football shape as he experienced cramping in his back and quad towards the end of the third quarter.
"You look out there and it's Dez Bryant across the way and he didn't flinch not one bit," safety Rodney McLeod said of the rookie's performance. "Lined up in press versus him in situations that he had to and did his job and that's all you can ask."
"He played well," safety Malcolm Jenkins said after the game. "Had a couple tackles, didn't get targeted much, but it was just good for him. We're proud to see him out there. It's obviously a big day for him."
Whether Jones will see playing time during the Eagles' playoff run remains to be determined. Nonetheless, the journey to becoming a pro for Jones finally culminated in the regular-season finale.
"Outside of the one double move, it appeared like he played pretty well. He held up pretty good there and did some nice things," said head coach Doug Pederson. "That's encouraging to see him, because he hasn't been out there in a long, long time. He held up well. Again outside of the one play, did some nice things.
"Other than that, didn't really have any other opportunities, contested throws or anything like that. So we'll check out film, but I think he held up pretty well."
The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 6-0, to end the regular-season.