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Jones Makes the Switch to 46


Former outside linebacker Edgar Jones took the practice field Tuesday with a new look, trading his white No. 91 for a purple No. 46.

While attempting to sort through their tight end position now that Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox have returned to the field, the Ravens have turned to Jones as an unlikely candidate to join the fray.

Jones dabbled on offense during offseason minicamps, where he saw brief duty at the position when a rash of injuries thinned the corps.

It seems that this time, the move is for real.

"We want to give it a little more of a full-blown experiment," said head coach John Harbaugh. "We want to give him a week or two in there to see how he does. He's played well at linebacker, he knows the linebacker position.

"We feel like we can move him back there at any time and he'll do just fine for us. But, we want to see if he can help us at tight end."

Switching to 46 allows Jones to play at both spots during games because linebackers and tight ends can each wear numbers in the 40s.

Seeing the new digits next to his nameplate in the locker room drove the move home for Jones.

"During the offseason, I took it as a joke and that they were just working me in," he said with a laugh. "I didn't take it too seriously until coach Harbaugh called me into his office. And then, I saw the 46 on my locker, so I knew what was happening."

If the "experiment" does prove successful, Jones could be a commodity for the Ravens. A hybrid tight end/linebacker might free up a precious roster spot when NFL clubs cut down to their final 53-man squad on Aug. 30.

"The thing about a guy like that, the value you'd have, is a guy who could play both ways," Harbaugh noted. "He could be an emergency linebacker and then give you a lot of value on special teams, as well."

The transition might not be all that difficult for Jones. The 6-foot-3, 263-pounder has extensive tight end experience in his past.

A Louisiana native, Jones was a standout tight end at Rayville High School, where he earned All-District honors four times.

Additionally, Jones was a three-time All-State selection on the basketball court, a sport that helped develop his nimble footwork.

"All through high school, I played tight end and receiver," he said. "I was more of a receiving tight end. They threw the ball to me a lot. There was a little bit of blocking, but I was more the receiving type."

Even if the Ravens haven't seen any highlight tapes from those Rayville days, the team still believes Jones' varied athletic background makes him an excellent candidate to convert at the professional level.

"He's a rangy athlete that can run," Harbaugh commented. "From the blocking perspective we suspect he can do it because he comes off the ball so well on defense, uses his hat and hands, and can push a tight end around.

"We figured we'd maybe flip that around and see how it goes."

He had already made the flip when he arrived at Southeast Missouri State, a small school in the Football Championship Subdivision. As a senior, Jones led the nation in sacks with 12 in 2006, prompting the Ravens to sign him as a rookie free agent the next year.

Against the odds of any undrafted player, Jones made the active roster at the end of training camp and even saw action in four games, posting five tackles, one sack and two special teams stops.

Now, he doesn't see changing sides of the ball as unfavorable odds, even if he hears the cat calls from his former defensive teammates. Jones just takes it as a new test along the way to a promising career.

"This is exciting," Jones said, flashing his ever-present wide smile. "It's a blessing just to be in the NFL itself. But, going from the defense to the offense is a challenge to me.

"I'm going to step up to the plate and meet it."

WATCH THIS: Michael Phelps talks about Troy Smith, and his hopes for the Ravens' upcoming season.

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