Due to a multitude of injuries at the tight end position, the Jaguars have been forced to turn to a few an unlikely participant. After third-round rookie tight end Josh Oliver was sent to injured/reserve due to “small fractures” in his back on Monday, the team opted to sign little-known tight end Charles Jones from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, the rookie’s first time being activated.
Jones, signed in May after a tryout with the team, has worked on the team’s practice squad since the start of the regular season, waiting for his opportunity to get on the field.
“It feels good. Just been always watching the older guys, the guys like [James] O’Shaughnessy, Geoff Swaim, and Ben Koyack and Seth DeValve, just learning from them,” Jones told Big Cat Country shortly after practice on Wednesday. “That’s kinda made it an easier process. An exciting one. Words can’t describe how I feel.”
The Jaguars have had to send three tight ends to their injured/reserve list this season. Oliver, Swaim (ankle/head), and O’Shaughnessy (ACL). All of which were expected to play major roles in the team’s offense. Since then, the one tight end out of the initial group still on the active roster today — DeValve — has been nursing an oblique injury and missed last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. The team has underperformed at the position netting just 24 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Often times, spending most of the season on a team’s practice squad is difficult. Never knowing when your chance to showcase your skills will arrive, a player is often stuck wondering ‘am I good enough’? Jones says staying focused wasn’t the issue for him. “It’s not been challenging to stay focused,” said Jones. “The thing I would say has been the most (difficult) is keeping a level head. My time is gonna come or when my opportunity does come I’m gonna make the best of it.”
Jones hopes to bring a new energy to the Jaguars’ tight end group. Although it is difficult to describe, Jones says he is a “go-hard person” with a relentless attitude. The Jaguars need that type of attitude on the offensive side of the football.
“I feel like I bring an energy to this team -- that they have -- just a different swag I would say I bring.”
This week, Jones will likely be tasked with being one of the team’s primary receiving threats, something the tight end takes great pride in. Learning from Jaguars tight end coach Ron Middleton, Jones says the emphasis during practice has always been ball security.
“When we get the ball just exploding through the whistle, finishing, everyday we work on our route running. That’s something I take great pride in and saying I’m a route runner, a prolific route-runner. And this tight end group -- all prolific route runners -- we are professionals at the end of the day so anything we do is gonna be over emphasized.”
Jones would not divulge what his role will be on Sunday only saying, “I can’t say nothing,” but the Jaguars typically place an extra emphasis on run-blocking at the tight end position, whether that be in an h-back role or split in an ‘F’ position as a receiver.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone feels Jones will have some sort of role on Sunday. “I think he will have a role for us on Sunday,” Marrone said on Wednesday. “Obviously, we will see how practice goes, but obviously we expect him to be able to contribute.”
Whatever the challenge on Sunday is, Jones is ready and willing to be a part of it.
“I feel real confident, just building confidence by doing the same thing over and over again. You know crafting, working on my technique. Getting with my coach and learning and being a sponge to the older guys so I’m ready. I’m ready.”