Bay Packers first-round draft pick Datone Jones runs a drill
during NFL football training camp Friday, July 26, 2013, in
Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY —
Defensive end Datone Jones feels he's been moving fast during the
first week of training camp for the Green Bay Packers.
His coaches can
vouch for that.
"You can see
the talent," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The thing I've
been most impressed with is his ability to close that line of
scrimmage. He can really run. You can see the quickness."
The team's top
rookie gives some of the credit to four weeks of working out back
home in Southern California. His intensive training with dozens of
other fellow NFL players included mixed martial arts, and Jones is
seeing the benefits from having an opportunity to spar with a few
of the top MMA fighters, including retired champion Chuck Liddell.
eye coordination, leverage, punches, your strike, just
everything," Jones said Thursday. "It helps (with)
releasing and getting off blocks more aggressively . and your
conditioning. I started doing it in college. It helped me out my
senior year really well, so I was like I'm not going to go away
from it now."
Jones strong-armed the opposition at UCLA last season. He led the
Bruins' defensive linemen with a career-high 62 tackles and ranked
fifth in the Pac-12 with 19 tackles for loss, including 6½ sacks.
Now only if Jones
could chase down Aaron Rodgers out on the field. The first-round
draft pick has been wowed by what the team's star quarterback can
pull off even in practice.
against Aaron Rodgers is tough," Jones said. "That's the
hardest game I've ever played, and it was at practice."
befriended Rodgers, the Packers' first-round draft choice in 2005
who is now the team's longest-tenured active player.
"I talk to
Aaron Rodgers a lot," Jones said. "I told him one time,
I almost intercepted one of his passes, and he was like, 'No, I
saw you the whole time.' I was like, 'You weren't even looking at
me.' He said, 'Trust me, I know your assignment before you even
did it.' I was like, 'This guy is incredible.'"
Bay Packers' Datone Jones runs a drill during NFL football
training camp Saturday, July 27, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.
already is being heaped on the 23-year-old Jones, especially after
the pads went on for the first time in training camp Sunday.
athletic," said Morgan Burnett, the fourth-year starting
safety. "He's got a lot of energy. We practice guys pursuing
to the ball, but there's times where you're chasing the ball down
field and you look, 'Oh, there's big (number) 95 right there.' He
has a lot of energy, he's learning quickly, and the future is
bright for him."
His coaches see
plenty of upside with the versatile Jones, the 26th overall pick.
Bay Packers first-round draft pick Datone Jones rides a bike
to NFL football training camp Saturday, July 27, 2013, in
Green Bay, Wis.
"I like his
size, and I like his athletic ability," defensive coordinator
Dom Capers said. "He's a big guy that gives you flexibility.
I think he can do a number of things. I think he's strong enough
that he can play in the middle to (take on a) block and play the
run game, yet I think he'll win some one-on-one battles in rushing
"The way the
game is now, because people spread you out so much and you've got
a lot more receivers on the field, you've got more athletic
quarterbacks, you better have athletic guys who can rush and can
win one-on-one and can go get the quarterback once they beat a
About 10 pounds
heavier than his playing weight in college, the 294-pound Jones
has been lining up in a number of special-teams segments,
including kickoff coverage.
run," McCarthy said. "He's a major match-up problem, but
we'll work him as a backup. I don't see that as a primary role for
Datone. But he has a unique skill set."