When the Oakland Raiders decided to move Taiwan Jones from running back to cornerback, it was a huge transition. Jones had played some cornerback, but not since high school. It takes a special athlete to move positions at the elite level that is the NFL. So far Jones is adjusting and trying to learn as much as he can at training camp.
The Raiders drafted Jones in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft as a running back. During his first two seasons in the league, that was the position he played. However, he was unable to bring the consistency to see the field. He had some ball security issues, so general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen moved him to defense. Jones had already established himself as a very solid special team's player so some of the skills were transferable.
“On defense, it’s all about reacting,” Jones said. “That’s one thing I’m pretty good at, so it’s coming pretty easy, but I still have a lot of work to do though. Every day I’m learning something new. So, actually being out there getting the reps, and being out there with the guys I’m learning something every day.”
Obviously the transition is very difficult, but Jones has one attribute that is a game changer. Speed is crucial and Jones has elite wheels, which will give him a chance in his new role. The second ingredient that is encouraging is the leadership and communication from his teammates. Charles Woodson, Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter have all taken Jones in to teach and advise him about cornerback.
“It’s been real beneficial for me,” Jones said. “I’m blessed to have guys like that in front of me. Mike, he teaches me something new every day, and Tracy Porter, and just watching the guys; I’m learning a lot from them. So, it’s definitely made my transition a lot easier having them in front of me.”
Jones has a tough road ahead as he switches to cornerback. The support and knowledge of his teammates will help, but Jones will make the Raiders because of his outstanding special teams play. That will give him more time to learn and transition.
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