ALAMEDA -- Raiders defensive back Taiwan Jones practiced in a different jersey on Wednesday. The converted running back moved back to his original position in order to bolster a suddenly thin position group.
With Rashad Jennings limited with a concussion, Darren McFadden out yet again with injury -- it’s an ankle this time -- and Jeremy Stewart sidelined with knee and ankle injuries, Jones was called to action.
“They asked me to switch today,” Jones said. “With the injuries to the other backs, they just want to prepare me just in case they need me this weekend.”
Odds are high the Raiders will. Marcel Reece is the only healthy rusher, and he rarely plays tailback. Jones’ position switch also indicates that injuries to either Stewart or McFadden are game threating.
Jones has experience at running back, and said his return to the position was natural. Few NFL players are faster than Jones, but that didn’t translate to offensive production. He struggled with ball security and physical runs inside. Over two seasons as a running back, he had just 94 yards on 22 carries.
Jones was moved to cornerback this offseason. It wasn’t his choice, but he accepted the switch without objection.
While Jones hasn’t played much defense this season, but he’s a Pro Bowl candidate due to excellent work on special teams. He’s considered among the NFL’s best coverage men -- he has 12 special teams tackles -- and has averaged 24.6 yards per kickoff return in 16 attempts.
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“Taiwan’s done a great job for us all year long on special teams. He’s played at a Pro Bowl level, so having a guy with that type of versatility that can go over and play defense but yet can be a guy that can get us some snaps on offense if needed will be big for this game.”
Jones felt comfortable at running back despite the layoff and will be ready if called upon.
“It’s pretty much like riding a bike,” Jones said. “Once you get in there and take some reps, it starts coming to you real easily.”
While Jones would never claim preference of one position over the other, he conceded excitement over playing offense again. He believes he’ll see action on Sunday and wouldn’t mind more in coming weeks.
“It’s all in (coach Allen’s) hands,” Jones said. “Whatever he wants me to do, I’m ready for it.”