Raiders rookie RB Jones excels in pro debut

August 29, 2011, 6:04 pm
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comOAKLAND -- And you thought Taiwan Jones had issues just facing the first NFL defense of his nascent professional career Sunday night.The rookie running back from Antioch and Raiders fourth-round draft choice from Eastern Washington had to secure tickets for up to 30 of his closest friends and family to attend his Oakland debut. Besides the ducats, Jones also treated them to a show. He ran for a game-high 81 yards on 13 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
Jones, who has been timed as fast as 4.27 seconds in the 40, exhibited his speed and his ability to change direction on a dime."The hardest thing was trying to slow myself down," Jones admitted. "I was so anxious and excited that I was able to showcase my talent against another team that I was a little too fast sometimes. I just had to slow things down, take a deep breath and try to be patient."Slowed in camp by what was believed to be a tweaked hamstring, Jones entered the game in the second quarter and took off for a 10-yard gain the first time he touched the ball. Unfortunately for him, left guard Stefen Wisniewski was called for holding, negating the play. Then, on his first "official" carry, Jones was stuffed for no-gain and lost his helmet in the scrum.He soon found his footing, though."We already knew he was fast and quick," said quarterback Jason Campbell. "He just hasn't been able to play because of the injury, but now that he's got an opportunity to go out there and play, I think people are getting a chance to see what kind of speed he brings and it's going to be fun."Jones' TD run, in which he cut back against the grain, found a lane and raced untouched down the right sideline, tied the score at 17-17 with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter.Less than four minutes later, Jones helped get the Raiders in position for Sebastian Janikowski's 57-yard field goal from the baseball infield dirt that gave Oakland a short-lived 20-17 lead. The Raiders would be outscored 23-0 the rest of the way but Jones, along with receiver Derek Hagan, provided highlights and hope for the offense entering the preseason finale Friday at Seattle and the regular season opener Sept. 12 at Denver.Especially with playmakers Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford sitting this one out to continue to heal their fractured left eye orbital and broken left hand injuries, respectively."He did it," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Jones. "That's what I talk bout -- it's about performance. What you do in practice needs to show up on the field and that's what the young man did, and that's what I'm looking forward. When I talk to our team, that's exactly what I need to see. Those things you do in practice, they need to show up in the game. And for that young man tonight, he did it."Jones also caught two passes for 18 yards and returned one kickoff 17 yards.So, did he surprise himself in his pro debut?"I hold a lot of high expectations for myself, but I kind of did today," Jones admitted. "Playing at the next level, you get kind of excited. You don't know what to expect until you're out there."I thought there were a lot of good plays made, but there definitely are a lot of things that I need to correct and get better at."Then he'll most definitely have to buy more than 30 tickets.