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Pats sign WR Jones
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Jones caught a middle screen as a member of the Buffalo Bills last September and was immediately drilled to the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf by Vince Wilfork. Somehow the wideout returned to his feet, and six months later he’s now teammates with the Patriots Pro Bowl defensive tackle after signing a three-year deal with the Patriots.
“I definitely have to say something to him about that,” Jones said outside the Patriots locker room Friday morning. “It was a real hit. It’s football. I got up right away. I’m sure he’s going to have jokes but it will be all right.”
Jones was set to become a restricted free agent this spring but the Bills chose not to offer him a tender, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. That decision seemed to be a curious one after the wideout caught 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games last season, and it was to Jones as well.
“That came as a shock to me. Me and my family,” he said. “But that decision was made upstairs over there and I’m happy to be here now.”
Jones has hurt the Patriots at times in the past. Last season he had two solid games against New England, catching a pair of passes for 90 yards including a 68-yard touchdown in the first meeting and adding six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown in the rematch in Foxborough. Also, in 2011 he grabbed five balls for 101 yards in the Bills 34-31 upset victory in Orchard Park, N.Y., numbers that included a 48-yard bomb down the sideline that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.
For his career Jones has 88 receptions for 887 yards and six touchdowns in 35 career games, so clearly much of his damage has come against New England. Perhaps that success led to Bill Belichick’s interest in the former undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State.
“Maybe, I really don’t know. It might have opened some eyes,” Jones said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to have those games.”
Also noteworthy in Jones’ performances against the Patriots has been the varied manner of his big plays. The 68-yard touchdown came on a crossing route in front of safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory. The 48-yard bomb was a deep route outside the numbers near the sideline.
Jones believes it’s that kind of versatility that likely led him to Foxborough.
“I can play any receiver position. I lined up in the backfield,” Jones said. “Whatever they ask me to do. I’m guessing that’s what they liked about me. That’s what I bring to an offense. I haven’t done one thing the most. I’ve been inside and I’ve been outside and that’s what the coaches like about me. I can learn the playbook very fast.
“I would like to be somebody that can do everything – down the field, over the middle, catching slants – I can do it all. There’s not something I can feel more comfortable with.”