ASHBURN — Matt Jones said Tuesday there was never a question in his mind whether he would show up to Redskins Park for Washington’s mandatory minicamp. As long as he’s on the roster, he was going to be there.
But Jones acknowledged skipping the last few weeks of voluntary OTAs was part of a plan worked out with his agent.
While the other Redskins were running through workouts and drills, Jones was figuring out his future.
The 2015 third-round pick, dogged by fumbling problems, lost his job as the starter last season and the Redskins followed up this spring by drafting Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine in the fourth round — raising more questions about Jones’ role on the team.
“I don’t think it was about leverage,” Jones said. “It wasn’t no battle with me, it was about seeing where my future goes. I was just really ready to train and be apart of a team and find a home.”
For now, Jones’ home is with the Redskins. Jones spent Tuesday primarily practicing with the second and third units. Jones was back, along with tight end Jordan Reed and left tackle Trent Williams, both of whom also missed this spring’s organized team activities.
Unlike those two stars, however, Jones is unsure of his role with the Redskins. There is a real possibility he could be cut after or during training camp, given the team’s depth at running back.
Starter Rob Kelley and third-down specialist Chris Thompson take the majority of the snaps and Perine, Mack Brown and Keith Marshall are also options.
Jones understandably wants his starting job back, but it’s an uphill climb.
“It’s all competition,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Guys who make plays and guys who are productive are guys that I like to play. It’s no secret. I’m just telling you it’s going to be hard to move a guy (from starting) who has been here working very hard and done such a good job, but it’s not impossible.”
Jones said he’s very confident in his game, but it’s up to the coaches if he ever becomes the starter again. The 24-year-old spent his time during OTAs in Tampa, Florida, working at a performance compound with a personal trainer.
Last year, Jones lost his job after Week 7 and was inactive for the rest of the season. Jones has fumbled eight times in his two-year career, three of which were last season. Of those eight, he’s lost six.
Jones said he missed being away from the team, though he said he kept in contact with at least one member of the organization: executive Doug Williams. Williams, promoted Tuesday to senior vice president of player personnel, Jones said, advised him to put his head down and compete.
Jones said he respects Williams and the two talked every other day.
Jones said he’s willing to do “whatever it takes,” including play on special teams if asked.
But there’s no doubt that Jones finds himself in a situation that is drastically different than when he entered minicamp last June.
“It’s football,” Jones said. “It’s life, you have to deal with it. You take the good with the bad. That’s what I’m doing, keeping my head high and still keep grinding.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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