Jones averaged 9.85 targets per game over the 134 starts he made for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s highly unlikely that he will see the same volume of passes come his way with the Titans, but that doesn’t bother him.
“At the end of the day, you want to create a winning culture. However you need to do it, you have to get the job done. My whole career, I’ve never been a stat guy. I’m a team guy. Whatever they need from me I’m going to do, and I will enjoy playing my role at a high level,” Jones said on his first Zoom news conference with the media.
Even though he has “never been a stat guy,” Jones has posted some eye-popping numbers over his 10-year career. Jones’ career totals of 848 receptions, 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns are already Hall of Fame-worthy.
Coming to the Titans is likely to give Jones an opportunity to add to his three career 100-plus-reception seasons. But it also will give him a chance to win. That was the primary selling point general manager Jon Robinson used when he spoke with Jones about the adjustment to Tennessee’s scheme, which revolves around All-Pro running back Derrick Henry.
“In my discussion with Julio, his No. 1 goal wasn’t about targets. His goal is to win, whether it takes nine targets, two targets or none. That’s the mindset that he has and the mindset that we want here,” Robinson said.
Added coach Mike Vrabel, “We have expectations here, and we’re going to treat any player the same way they treat the team. That’s no different for Julio or for Racey McMath. That’s what we believe in. We try to make our expectations here clear and be direct with the players and get them to understand the way that we do things.”
Henry is a big part of the offense, and that’s not going to change, according to Robinson. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound back has carried the football an NFL-high 381 times over the past two seasons. As a result, the Titans have faced eight-man fronts on 23% of their snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. That’s more often than any other team in the league.
The focus on stopping the rushing attack will give the Titans’ receivers more opportunities to face single coverage. Henry rushed for 2,027 yards last year. Yet A.J. Brown finished with 1,075 receiving yards and Corey Davis checked in with 984 yards.
Inserting Jones into the lineup gives Tennessee a more threatening game-changer alongside Brown in the passing game. Jones said teams will have to “pick their poison” when trying to defend the Titans’ offense. Asking defensive backs to cover Jones or Brown without any help is a tall order.
Although Jones is 32 years old and coming off of an injury, he has a special message for those who are doubting him.
“Stay tuned,” he said.
Linebacker Vince Williams, 31, informs Pittsburgh Steelers of his retirement after eight seasons
Williams, 31, played eight seasons with the organization after being selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Williams was initially released by the team in March because of cap constraints, but he was re-signed in April on a one-year veteran minimum deal.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) July 21, 2021
The former Florida State player emerged as a team leader in Pittsburgh and started 69 of 121 career games, racking up 20.5 sacks, 479 combined tackles and 50 tackles for loss.
Beyond Spillane and Bush, the Steelers will likely look to rookie Buddy Johnson and safety-turned-inside linebacker Marcus Allen for depth at the position — but with a strong camp, a fully healthy Ulysees Gilbert III could also land a roster spot to round out the group.
Jerry Jones confident Dallas Cowboys’ vaccination percentage ‘will not limit us in any way’
OXNARD, California — The Dallas Cowboys will open training camp under stricter COVID-19 protocols because they did not reach the 85% vaccination threshold, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he does not believe it will impact the players’ preparedness for the regular season.
“My opinion is it will absolutely will not limit us in any way, the issue of vaccination, will [not] limit us in any way as to being competitive as early as when we play Pittsburgh in the first preseason game,” Jones said Wednesday at the opening news conference of training camp. “When people say, ‘Where do you think you stand right now with vaccine relative to your team and as it pertains — this comes to my mind — the competition,’ and I think we’re one of the leaders.”
Jones indicated as few as five players have not made a pledge to get vaccinated at present, and a portion of players are “in the pipeline” toward becoming fully vaccinated, a number that would help the Cowboys reach the mark.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones noted the four weeks between the first shot and full vaccination for not being able to pinpoint an exact date. With 90 players on the roster, 77 need to be vaccinated to reach the current threshold that would ease COVID-19 restrictions at training camp.
“I don’t know that the 85% has been totally negotiated yet,” Stephen Jones said. “I think it’s a work in progress, but, yes, I do think we’ll hit that threshold and more.”
Stephen Jones credited the players for listening to the information the team made available regarding the vaccine.
“They understand that everybody was recommending the vaccine, in and around the country, but they really did their homework,” he said. “They had a lot of great questions. We provided them with lot of education, a lot about the science, and I think they were able to get their hands around it.”
The Cowboys’ coaching staff is fully vaccinated, according to Jerry Jones, but Mike McCarthy said he told his players he needed some convincing early on before getting the shot.
“Frankly, I shared my own personal experience where the facts that I was not particularly 100 percent on board with the vaccination, but through the relationships that we’re fortunate to have in the medical community, you watch, you listen. I think that same approach was given to our players,” McCarthy said. “We just wanted to make sure they had all the facts … Really, the position of where we were numbers-wise in my opinion was more about timing.”
Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin was critical of the Cowboys for not reaching the threshold, questioning their commitment to winning.
“Yeah, and it should upset them,” Irvin said. “It should upset them. Dude, you’re not thinking right. You’re not thinking right. Whatever you got, I don’t give a damn. Nothing else can be more important. You’re not going to get this (winning a Super Bowl) easily. Nothing else could be more important. Jimmy [Johnson] made that abundantly clear (during Irvin’s playing career). Nothing else is more important. And not being one of the [teams] says there’s other things to a great number of people on this team that are more important than winning championships, and that makes me worried.”
Jerry Jones said he understood Irvin’s comments.
“Michael Irvin is the best example that I know of how much will and how much body language and how much of heart and sacrifice mean to winning championships. He is that. So when he talks, I listen. I know that,” Jerry Jones said. “And I think he has a good reputation with the current group of players because of his visibility and his activity with the network where he is as an individual. So he comes with all the credibility in the world. He’s a Hall of Famer and then not only part of — because he’s a talented football player — but a big part of why he got there was that total commitment going above and beyond.
“That’s what he was trying to say. That it isn’t normal things we want from each other as players. We want everything to go above and beyond. And so I thought it was an outstanding message.”
Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones says he’d ‘do anything’ to make Super Bowl LVI
OXNARD, Calif. — Over the years, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has not been afraid to talk about Super Bowl dreams before the start of a season. But as the franchise’s championship drought pushes past 25 years, Jones stayed away from making headlines Wednesday.
Still, making it to Super Bowl LVI is at the top of Jones’ mind.
“I’d do anything known to man to get to a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “That’s a fact.”
Jones became emotional at several points of a nearly hour-long news conference, starting with when he was asked how he intends to get the Cowboys back to a time when they won three Super Bowls in a four-year span in the 1990s.
“I’ve always had to be pragmatic at the end of the day because if not, you’ll end up on the outside looking in. You have to be real,” Jones said. “But on the other hand, I’ve never thought that we couldn’t be better or never thought that we couldn’t make it happen, even when we were not on paper or we weren’t as technically as good or sound. But I’ve never thought that, and I’ve got too many examples of how shorthanded people have knocked them out of the park before. A lot of them. In a lot of different areas.
“I really don’t know that I have any days or have any weeks where I don’t think, ‘There’s a pony in here somewhere.’ You have a lot of days where you ask yourself, ‘What are you doing in the middle of this?’ That has served me well. This isn’t an ‘I, me,’ but I’ve had a lot of people tell me, ‘You’re naive’ or say, ‘He’s naive.’ Well, it’s a beautiful world. … It’s a better world to be naive than to be skeptical and be negative all the time.”
Jones choked up when discussing former coach Jimmy Johnson’s tenure with the Cowboys now that Johnson is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
“Well, I just think of those great times, and Jimmy’s a great coach,” Jones said. “Ridiculous. My role here was, my job was to keep it together. It was my job. Should have had deference to something that was working good. Those are the things that come to my mind. We had a great run of it. He’s a great coach, and I’m proud to have him as a friend, and proud to have had the times that we had. We just had a great experience.”
The current Cowboys have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, including a 6-10 finish in 2020 in Mike McCarthy’s first season as coach. Dak Prescott played in just five games because of a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, but he will be a full participant when practice opens Thursday. A number of other key players also missed significant time due to injury.
“I think we got a way to make it work big for this season,” Jones said. “You put those two things together, and I think we got a chance to be a really good team.”
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