Canadians in Camp: TJ Jones

Canadians in Camp: TJ Jones

For Winnipeg native TJ Jones, the key to surviving and NFL training camp is being a sponge.

NFL playbooks are not small documents. After weeks of rookie camp and organized team activities (OTAs), TJ Jones, one of four Canadians selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, is still absorbing his, and learning on the fly.

“It’s been going well, slowly been picking up the playbook,” Jones told CBS Detroit reporter Ashley Dunkak. “You’ve got to kind of take a lot of mental reps now. It’s a lot of watching the vets, watching what they do, how they run the routes, and really trying to hone in the playbook for yourself.

“Just trying to be a sponge,” Jones told Dunkak. “When you have two greats like that in front of you (Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate), you got to pick their brains, see how they play the game, how they take care of themselves on and off the field, how they prepare. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Lions selected Jones, a former captain at Notre Dame, in the sixth round of the draft.

“Once I learn the playbook, once I don’t have to think as much, I can really go out and play,” Jones told Dunkak. “I can hone in on my skills, I can work on my route-running, but I can’t do any of that without the playbook knowledge.”

According to ESPN Jones signed a four-year deal with Detroit, and received a $106,200 signing bonus.

“[I] wasn’t an American citizen until I was 17,” Jones said when asked by Dunkak about his Canadian roots. “I think I was maybe a year-ish, so I was just born over there. My father was playing in the Canadian league for a little while, so then we moved back here, and I think the first city we moved to was actually Detroit.”

Dunkak’s complete story is available here: staff writer Tim Twentyman reported on June 19 that Jones is no lock to make the Lions roster.

“Jones didn’t stick out early on in the open OTA sessions and missed the mandatory minicamp with an undisclosed injury. The competition for the final three or four receiver spots is going to be fierce. Jones needs to get healthy and step up his game come training camp or he could potentially be looking at the practice squad,” said Twentyman.

In addition to superstar Johnson, the Lions depth chart at receiver also includes Golden Tate, a free agent signee fresh off of a Super Bowl championship with the Seattle Seahawks, Kris Durham, who played all 16 games with 13 starts last year and had 38 catches, and additional free agent signees Jeremy Ross and Kevin Ogletree.

TJ Jones at Notre Dame (Michael Conroy, AP)

TJ Jones at Notre Dame (Michael Conroy, AP)