Velus Jones Jr. has given it some thought. If he had that one sequence from final week’s loss to the Washington Commanders to do over once more, if he had a redo on the punt he muffed contained in the Chicago Bears 10-yard line with 8 minutes, 12 seconds remaining, he would have simply stayed away.
“I would have let the ball go,” Jones stated after follow Friday at Halas Hall. “I felt like I acquired exterior myself. I used to be making an attempt to make one thing occur as a result of the sport was nonetheless so shut. But that was a ball that will have been a touchback.
“At the end of the day, it’s about being smarter and not making wild decisions. When you try to do too much instead of just being yourself, that’s when chaos happens.”
It was a expensive mistake. “A devastating blow,” to make use of Jones’ phrases.
When the Bears rookie did not get his ft beneath him correctly and wound up with Tress Way’s punt caroming off his face masks and squirting free for a turnover, it set the Commanders up for his or her all-too-easy game-winning landing late within the sport. With a 6-yard drive, the Commanders registered the ultimate factors of their 12-7 victory.
That misstep additionally has now pushed Jones into correction mode, persevering with to check his endurance because the Bears, a minimum of quickly, think about different choices for his or her punt returner function.
“For me, you focus on getting better,” Jones stated. “Just get better each and every day until it’s my time to go back there again.”
Special groups coordinator Richard Hightower declined to say Friday whether or not Jones would have an opportunity to retain punt return duties for Monday night time’s highway sport in opposition to the New England Patriots. But Hightower made it clear an in-season competitors has grow to be crucial, itemizing receiver Dante Pettis, defensive again Josh Blackwell and, sure, even security Eddie Jackson as candidates to leap in.
Rookie working again Trestan Ebner and veteran receiver Nsimba Webster additionally could possibly be viable choices.
At follow, Hightower has had his eyes on discovering a reliable returner with the Bears utilizing an array of in-house prospects to catch punts Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. One final Week 7 follow is on the itinerary for Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve got to see who stands out the most in that area,” Hightower stated. “Obviously at the end of the day, we’re always going to do what’s best for the football team.”
Hightower stated the Bears teaching employees did a examine lately and located that of the 18 punts that had been mishandled this season leaguewide, one-third had been bungled by rookie returners. So Jones shouldn’t be alone together with his rising pains. He is answerable for two misplaced fumbles — final week in opposition to the Commanders and a Week 4 muff late within the fourth quarter in opposition to the New York Giants.
“It’s what happens with rookies,” Hightower stated. “They’re going to make mistakes. Just have to keep working, have to keep getting better.”
Hightower emphasised that Jones’ attentiveness in conferences and vitality at follow has remained constant this week, allaying any fears of a psychological funk.
“I’m not worried about anything in terms of his confidence,” Hightower stated. “But obviously he wants to do a better job for the team. … We’ve got a rookie who has to fail his way to success. That happens sometimes. Guys have to fail their ways to success. And he’s working hard and doing what he needs to do.”
As it pertains to final week’s misstep, although, Hightower burdened that Jones should do a greater job judging the soccer off the foot of the punter and shortly assessing trajectory and cling time. A variety of that can come by means of expertise.
“And,” Hightower stated, “you have to get your feet to the spot before the ball comes down and get settled. Anytime you see a returner whose feet are moving as the ball comes down, we call that ‘happy feet.’ His feet want to be settled so he can be underneath (the punt) and either slide left or right or come forward and get it. If a guy’s feet aren’t in position when the ball is coming down, usually you have an issue.”
While supportive of Jones, Bears coaches have stopped nicely wanting locking him in on the punt return function and made it clear a change for Monday is being thought-about severely.
“It’s a case-by-case situation,” Hightower stated. “And (it’s a) scenario where you talk about, ‘Hey, is that a mistake we’re willing to let (a guy) work through or is that a mistake that he can’t work through.’ ”
Jones, in the meantime, understands he has plenty of work to do and stated he’s wanting to get extra follow fielding deeper punts that require him to backpedal.
“I’m good with pretty much anything that’s in front of me,” he stated. “But I need to work on when the ball is sailing, getting back in time to get set. It’s about repetition, taking those reps over and over and over until I can get back into those punt return duties.”
Jones asserted Friday that he’s nonetheless in a optimistic head house as he works to enhance his sport and regain the belief of coaches.
“I’m big on faith,” he stated. “I’m massive on my course of. And I do know God didn’t carry me this manner for no purpose. I really really feel like my finest is but to return. But I’m undoubtedly dealing with adversity. And I’m undoubtedly going to beat it.
“I’m going to make a lot of great plays in my years with the Bears. So it’s all about moving forward and using your free time and your off days to make sure you get better.”
Until additional discover, Jones’ enchancment efforts is likely to be relegated to the follow fields in Lake Forest.