FOXBORO, Mass. — Not many wide receivers can say they’ve played with a quarterback on the same level as Tom Brady. Donald Jones definitely can’t, though.
The new Patriots wide receiver took a strange route to the NFL that had him going from junior college at Lackawanna College to FCS-level ball at Youngstown State to the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. That means Jones played with junior college and FCS quarterbacks before taking passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Thigpen, Brian Brohm and Trent Edwards in the pros. I don’t think it’s out of line to say that Brady is significantly better than any of those signal callers.
Brady has been in the league for 13 years now, so any young player in the NFL has been watching him since he was a kid. That should make for quite an experience taking the field with the Patriots legend for the first time.
“You know, for me, still being a young veteran receiver now, I really grew up watching him,” said Jones, who is headed into his fourth year in the league. “So, to be here and playing alongside him now is a — I don’t want to say a dream come true, because that kind of sounds starstruck, but it really is. When you’re a young receiver, you want a great quarterback in order to play along with. He can make you that much better. So, like I said, I’m excited about it and working hard every day to try to make sure he trusts me out on the field, he knows what I’m doing and I know what he’s doing.”
Jones said he and Brady have already been throwing together and that the jokes are already flowing between them. That should make for some nice chemistry when the two hit the field for real. New England has had nearly unheard-of turnover at the wide receiver position this year. Only one of the 11 wideouts on the team caught a pass from Brady in 2012 (Julian Edelman). That means that the newest Patriots will have to connect with Brady fast.
“Everyday we’re out and we’re throwing out in the bubble or outside,” Jones said. “We talk Buffalo, just because it’s a rival team. He’ll always have jokes with me about cheating in a drill or something like that. It’s real good to be able to work alongside one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, so I’m excited.”
Jones knows what he’ll have to do to succeed in New England, and that means proving himself to Brady just as much as the coaches in Foxboro.
“Working with him, he’s a hard worker,” Jones said. “He really wants guys — he’s very fast, up tempo — so he wants everyone to be up tempo and make sure you’re always [working]. His biggest thing is working hard. If you come to work and work hard every day, then you’re cool with him.”
Jones had to work hard to make the NFL out of Youngstown State as an undrafted free agent in 2010, so that should be nothing new for him. But playing with a quarterback like Brady should be a treat after taking passes in Buffalo the past three seasons.