The Bowling Green product was drafted by the Texans in the sixth round of the NFL draft. He faced some steep competition at his position and was cut on Aug. 31 when Houston decided to keep players at his position like Terrell McClain and Tim Jamison instead. (The Texans’ decision to cut Jones looks worse since three rookies were cut for breaking team rules – Willie Jefferson, Cierre Woods and Sam Montgomery.)
The Patriots tried to claim Jones on Sept. 1, but the Buccaneers had a higher waiver claim priority. The 23-year-old rookie was waived just 10 days later on Sept. 10. Houston had a change of heart and tried to claim him, but an obscure NFL rule prevented them from doing so. New England got Jones.
The Texans and Buccaneers — not to mention the rest of the NFL — are looking pretty dumb right now. Jones has played five games with New England and has five sacks. He went from being inactive in his first two weeks to the team to a near-every-down starter the last three weeks.
Now entering Week 9 of the NFL season, we’re at the halfway point. That seemed like a good enough time to catch up with this year’s rookie crop to see how they’re adjusting to life with the Patriots. See what Jones had to say below.
Who have you looked to as the “big brother” on this team that you can go up to and ask any question that you may have?
Chris Jones: There’s multiple guys we have. Definitely Vince and TK are big brothers to me. Even Joe helps me out a lot. Joe is a very smart guy. He understands a lot of the defense. He’s helped me out a lot. I look to everybody, wherever I can get information. Even Coach [Patrick] Graham or Coach [Bill] Belichick, whoever I can get information from, I gravitate towards.
What’s been the hardest adjustment you’ve had to make?
CJ: I think it’s just getting comfortable with the defense. Just playing in three different defenses, learning this, getting every — calling communication down. I’ve gotten a lot better throughout the weeks and I’m a lot more comfortable with it now. I’m on track and on page with everyone else.
What’s been more beneficial or easier about the pro game over the college game?
CJ: I’d say more beneficial is that I have more time to take care of my body. In college, you’re — for us, you come out of practice and go straight to class until 5 or 6. Then you get back, you have to do homework and all this other stuff, study film at some point in time. You know the college thing. Here, we definitely have more time to do what we need to do to prepare ourselves for each week.
Do you think there’s a big change coming from a smaller school or a bigger school?
CJ: I think there’s definitely a bit of a talent swing I guess you would say. There will be better players that make it to the NFL. No matter what conference you come from, you’re gonna be dealing with much better players. You take the best of the best from college and bring them up. It’s a little different coming from Bowling Green. I’m gonna say the MAC is great competition. I know talent-wise, there’s a few dips here and there.
CJ: Nah. UMass, I think they’ll be making an upswing here soon. Recruiting, they just gotta get — they have a great coach, they have great players now, it’s just — they’ll end up making a rise when they get comfortable with — I know they made the jump from 1-AA up. It’s always tough for the first couple years. I think — just going on with it, the competition is great. The talent is probably the biggest thing.
Has the season seemed to go by fast for you or a little bit slower?
CJ: It’s actually been pretty quick. Surprisingly, it’s been pretty fast. This is the, going on ninth week. I played in five games, going on six. It’s just crazy to think I’ve been here for that long. Feels like I was just here yesterday, just arriving on the plane, getting to the hotel. It’s been fun, though. I think — they say time flies when you’re having fun. I’m having fun, so time is going by just as fast.