By Samuel Njoku
Jacoby Jones, WR #12
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
College: Lane College
Experience: 6 years
Ravens’ fans will forever remember the catch that never happened. In the 2011 AFC Championship game, Lee Evans would fail to secure the go ahead touchdown that would’ve sent Baltimore to its second Super Bowl. The play not only capped the end of the Ravens’ season, but the short career of Evans in Baltimore as well. The Ravens would release Evans a few months later, leaving a huge void at the slot receiver position. Baltimore would fill that void with the signing of speedy wide receiver Jacoby Jones. And while drops plagued Jones as much as his predecessor, Jones was determined to make the most of his second chance.
Jones came into college with the intention of running track. In 2002, he enrolled in Southeastern Louisiana University with a track scholarship. But like many athletes with his speed, he was seen as a dangerous weapon on the football field. The following year, he transferred to Lane College. At Lane College, Jones would succeed as one of the fasted receivers in college football. In his senior year, Jones was named the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Offensive Player of the Year. He would finish his career with 200 receptions, for 2,750 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Dragons would also use his speed on special teams as he ran in 4 touchdowns on kickoff returns.
The Houston Texans saw enough in Jones that they drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Though Jacoby Jones played Division II football in college, he showed he could still contribute early in his career. His most notable play came in his second year when he returned his first punt for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Jones was dangerous as both a returner and a receiver. And it appeared as though the Texans may have finally found the receiver who could compliment Andre Johnson. But the relationship between Jones and the Texans were rocky. In 2008, Jones was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Questions regarding his character and maturity surfaced. To make matters worse, Jones was having trouble holding on to the football.
Ironically, the tipping point occurred in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2011. The Texans were in a tight game against the Baltimore Ravens when Jones muffed a punt early in the game that would lead to a Ravens touchdown. The Texans would lose that game and a few months later subsequently release Jones. A dropped punt may have cost Jones his job, but a dropped catch a week later may have given him another opportunity; An opportunity that Jones has made the most of.
So far in the season, Jones has averaged 18.9 yards a catch. He is one of the primary reasons Joe Flacco leads the AFC in passing yards. Players understand what he means to the football team.
“He’s a good athlete,” said Flacco. “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. All those things have worked favorably for us so far.”
No one talked too much about the Ravens signing Jacoby Jones. With the Peyton Manning fiasco and the emergence of Tim Tebow in New York, Jones appeared to get lost in the shuffle. But nobody can ignore the receiver anymore. Not the media and more importantly, not the opposing defense.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.