Datone Jones looks to bolster Packers defense

August 16, 2016


In this Aug. 12, 2016, file photo, Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones (95) celebrate a sack against the Cleveland Browns in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Green Bay, Wisc. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have a new face in the Packers pass-rush rotation this preseason. Datone Jones is getting good reviews so far in camp.

GREEN BAY Running back Eddie Lacy isn't the only Green Bay Packer who slimmed down in the offseason.

While Lacy isn't saying how many pounds he lost in his workouts with fitness expert Tony Horton, a leaner Datone Jones has been forthcoming about his weight loss.

Jones said he's shed about 15 pounds since last season in the defensive lineman's conversion to playing more at outside linebacker.

"I don't know what Datone did over the break, but he dropped some more pounds," Winston Moss, the Packers' associate head coach/linebackers coach, said this week.

Down to 284 pounds, a lighter Jones is hoping to make a greater impact on Green Bay's defense after three mostly unproductive seasons since the Packers selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft.

His switch to what the Green Bay coaches refer to as an elephant end gives the Packers' pass-rush rotation led by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers another option.

So far in training camp, Jones is drawing good reviews in the hybrid role, which has him standing up as a linebacker and also lining up inside on the defensive line.

"We wanted to look at Datone rushing from the outside," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said about the switch, a move that started the second half of last season.

"He had been primarily an inside player, an inside rusher," Capers added. "We liked his size, his ability to be physical coming off the edge. I thought you saw that show up Friday night."

Jones led the Packers with two quarterback hits and had one of their four sacks in the team's first preseason game, a 17-11 win over the Cleveland Browns.

"He got off to a very good start, had some very good physical plays, had the sack," Capers said.

Both Capers and Moss said the 6-foot-4 Jones brings a three-dimensional skillset to the field as a run stopper on the outside, a pass rusher from the outside or inside and being able to drop into pass coverage.

"It's the NFL," Jones said. "You've got to be able to adjust to the position change quick and be a very quick learner."

Jones has embraced the full-time change going into this season, saying he's feeling more comfortable with the added responsibilities at linebacker.

An abundance of practice reps has eased the adjustment as well with the coaches limiting the work in camp for Matthews and Peppers, whose expertise at the position has been valuable for Jones.

"Just having Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, two future Hall of Famers to learn from, that elevates our game even more," Jones said.

And the former high draft pick out of UCLA knows what's at stake going into the final year of his rookie contract.

Jones has started only three games and has just 8 sacks, including the playoffs.

"I know what position I'm in," Jones said. "It's my contract year. I'm not blind to that. I love playing football, and at the end of the day, may the best man win. I'm out here competing. I have to go out and show what I can do."

NOTES: QB Aaron Rodgers isn't sure if he will play Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders. Coach Mike McCarthy rested Rodgers in the game Friday and said decisions on playing time won't be made until Wednesday. "If I play, it won't be a whole lot, but I'm still waiting," Rodgers said Monday. ... WR Jeff Janis had surgery for what he said was a broken right index finger, an injury he suffered in practice last week. The third-year pro was told his recovery timetable would be four to six weeks. ... S Morgan Burnett (back) didn't practice for the second straight day. Veteran guard Josh Sitton was rested Monday, and third-round rookie LB Kyler Fackrell was out with an illness. Sixth-round rookie OT Kyle Murphy practiced for the first time since suffering a concussion Aug. 3.



Associated Press