So while Jones had his game-clinching touchdown taken from him by an offensive pass interference call last Sunday in Philadelphia, the wide receiver isn’t losing his cool.
He knows more opportunities like that will come.
“I look at it like this. It probably wasn’t my moment to be the ‘hero’ and score the game-winning touchdown,” Jones said. “But I know I’m capable of making that play. I made the catch.”
The Ravens have been looking for a dependable, explosive threat at the No. 3 wide receiver spot for the past several years. They’ve rotated through Kelley Washington, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans.
The past two years, the season has essentially ended with the ball falling out of the hands of one of those wideouts. Houshmandzadeh dropped a fourth-down pass in Pittsburgh. Evans had the ball punched out in New England.
Heading into Week 3’s rematch against the Patriots, Jones is looking to prove he can be relied on once again to flash.
“I’m a role player,” Jones said. “All I get caught up in is making big-time plays.”
Through two games, Jones has already proven to be a valuable commodity. He has matched or bested Evans’ final stats from last year.
Jones has four receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown. Evans, who is now out of the league after spending training camp with Jacksonville, had four catches for 74 yards and no touchdowns in nine games.
The key for Jones is continuing his hot start.
Asked what the feeling is after making a big play like the one he had against Eagles All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for a 21-yard touchdown last Sunday, Jones said he tells himself he’s got to do it again.
“It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league,” Jones said. “I made a catch. Now I’ve got to do it again. That’s how you separate yourself – consistency. That’s a tough thing to do in the NFL.”
Jones, who was a free-agent signing after being cut by Houston this offseason, was criticized by Texans fans for his inconsistent hands. He had two fumbles while playing against the Ravens in last year’s AFC divisional playoff game.
But Jones has strived to try to work out those wrinkles. For him, it starts with having a schedule.
Jones arrives at the Ravens training complex at 6:45 a.m. every morning. He gets in a morning lift so he’s not taxing his body after practice. He’s in the cold tub three times a day and gets treatment even though he doesn’t have any injuries.
Jones hits the JUGS machine three times a day too. He’s on it in the morning, right before practice and when he first arrives home. The machine Jones bought sits in his garage, so he does it before he even walks up his front steps. Jones catches balls until his hands hurt and turn pink.
“It’s just learning how to be consistent,” Jones said. “That’s a big part of being mature and becoming a man.”
It took Jones a little while to get to this mindset. The speedster out of Lane College had the tools. But as a late bloomer and former basketball player, he wasn’t accustomed to being part of a major football program.
In his third year, Jones said Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak reminded him not to be late for a meeting. Jones was late anyway. Kubiak punished him by leaving Jones behind for the next game in Jacksonville. Jones was sitting at home watching the game when the light bulb came on.
“I told myself, ‘Am I friggin’ crazy?’” Jones remembers. “[Kubiak] would have been justified to cut my [butt] out of the league a long time ago. I was young, crazy.”
Jones is still a bit crazy. He’s constantly dancing around the Ravens locker room. He says if you see him dancing that means he’s happy. So he must be really happy these days in Baltimore.
He drew attention for his well-choreographed “Choppa City Juke” touchdown dance in Philadelphia, and says he already has a different one planned for New England.
On the field, he’s added another element to the Ravens offense.
“It’s just been huge, because you see the vertical threat, and his route technique, and his experience, and his energy, his confidence,” Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said.
“He’s a good athlete, and he creates a lot of matchup problems on the outside, personally, and it allows us to free up those tight ends, free up Anquan, free up our running back,” quarterback
His biggest impact has been as a wide receiver. Jones said he doesn’t care how he’s used. He just hopes he gets a chance to make that big play.
“Every guy wants to be that person they come to [in the clutch],” Jones said. “Who doesn’t want to be that guy that makes that hero catch? The biggest thing is playing your role, and when your time goes and they call your number, you’ve got to make the play.”