BALTIMORE -- The juiciest subplot coming into the Raiders' game at Baltimore?The purported unveiling of the quick enigma that is running back Taiwan Jones.The dare-I-ask question emerging from the morass after Jones was no factor at all in Oakland's embarrassing 55-20 loss to the Ravens?Why is Jones even on the roster?Oh sure, Jones said the right things after carrying the ball only two times for six yards, and catching one pass for seven yards, but you could not have blamed him had he felt disillusioned at becoming such an afterthought.
Because while there is no shame in taking a backseat to the multi-talented fullback that is Marcel Reece, who started at tailback and had a game-high 48 yards rushing on 13 carries, Jones was also eclipsed by an undrafted rookie who was just signed up from the practice squad on Saturday.No disrespect to the hard-working Jeremy Stewart, but he had seven carries for 22 yards while Jones was reduced to the role of an observer on the sidelines, while both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson rehabbed their respective high ankle sprains."I had my hopes up as far as getting more carries," Jones said, "but the coaches had a gameplan."One that, at times, involved five wideouts, and an empty backfield."A lot of people, including myself, thought I'd get more carries," he said.And Jones said it without a sense of resentment. More like, regret. Even quarterback Carson Palmer spoke this past week about how excited he was to see Jones get some run against the Ravens. Alas...And without coming straight out and saying it, coach Dennis Allen basically said the Raiders do not trust Jonesstill."Taiwan has had a lot of injuries this year and had some ball security issues," Allen said. "We have to know when he goes in the game, he's going to know what to do and he's going to protect the football and he's got to be able to stay healthy."So those are things that we are looking at and as he proves that he can do those things, then he'll get more playing time."And there it is.Told of Allen's comments, Jones seemed genuinely surprised and maybe, a little hurt. But he did not lash out. Jones grew introspective."If that's the issue," he said, "then my job is to earn their trust."