The 2017 Eagles rookies took the field at the NovaCare Complex for the first time today. Check out some of their best moments on the field...
Sidney Jones says he is not, by nature, a patient man. So having to watch practice from the sidelines and having to work day to day on his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon is, of course, a challenge. He isn't backing down, though. The Eagles' second-round draft pick knows that, in time, he's going to be right and ready to play the cornerback position at a high level.
"Whenever I get back out there," he said on Friday at the NovaCare Complex, "it's going to be special."
Jones was injured at the University of Washington's Pro Day on March 11 on the very last drill of the day, and the injury knocked him from a sure-thing, first-round NFL Draft pick into the second round, where the Eagles selected him with the 43rd overall pick.
He has maintained a positive attitude, though, and that's helped him make progress. Instead of working on the field, Jones is taking "mental reps," from the sidelines, watching film, lifting and getting stronger, and doing drills to sharpen mobility, even if he can't be mobile at the moment.
"It's very testing," Jones said, "especially today in the defensive meeting room after practice. Watching the film, it was kind of burning me inside not being able to play. Everybody is being coached up and I'm not being coached up. I just have to watch the other guys do their stuff. It's hard, but it's a process and you learn patience going through this."
Jones had a stellar career at Washington and, prior to his injury, was considered a top 10-15 pick. The Eagles have raved about his ability to shut down receivers as a "twitchy" (said Howie Roseman) cornerback who has length, athletic ability, and a huge desire to be great.
When he is healthy, and there is absolutely no timetable here, Jones thinks Eagles fans are going to love what they see.
"You're getting a passionate player who loves football," Jones said. "Couldn't be happier than to be in the position I'm in right now. You're getting a great football player, a great person, somebody who loves to compete, and who goes hard every time he steps on the field."
In the meantime, Jones will get busy in the weight room and in the film room. He will work on his nutrition and spent countless hours rehabbing the injury. Because of NFL rules prohibiting rookies from practicing until their school classes graduate, Jones will leave Philadelphia on Sunday and won't return until June 10 for the team's mandatory minicamp. Jones will go back to Seattle and rehab there.
He will have the walking boot removed from his left foot on May 21, a mini-goal to look forward to. He will focus on every minute of every day and try to improve in whatever ways he can.
When the time is right, whether it's later in 2017 or in 2018, the Eagles will clear Jones for on-field work, and the rookie will go from there. Any reports of "ready-to-play" dates are, Jones said, unsubstantiated. Everyone is taking a cautious, safe, and smart approach.
The best of Sidney Jones IV is to come.
"I can get better by taking mental reps, as I'm not practicing," he said. "Watch practice, see what people are doing good and see what people are doing bad and just learn from that. Film room, weight room, nutrition. Everything can play a part in progressing yourself as a player.
"I'm feeling good. Everything looks good to them (the medical staff). We're just going to follow the protocol and the schedule. No rush to get me back. We're just going to go whenever I'm ready, whenever everybody else feels I'm ready."
Jones is taking the right approach. He's being positive. He's in the NFL, and in time he's going to be on the field and he will have the opportunity to show the Eagles and the fans who is he and what kind of cornerback he can be. Nobody is going to force him into action before he is 100 percent ready to go.
And, ultimately, Jones will have to let it loose. Is it, then, going to be more of a physical challenge or a mental one to get all the way back to the star track he was on before the injury?
"I don't think I'll have a problem," a very humble, yet confident Jones said, "with either of those."