The Las Vegas Raiders made serious efforts to revamp their receiving corps for quarterback Derek Carr with the additions of Henry Ruggs III, Nelson Agholor and Bryan Edwards this offseason.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Zay Jones is among those looking to build on his familiarity with the system following his acquisition during the 2019 campaign. The former second-round pick struggled to fit the billing during his time with the Buffalo Bills and is hoping the change-of-scenery will get him back on the right track.
Although it has been an unprecedented year due to the restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Jones is relishing in being able to spend a full offseason with the Raiders. He is confident that it will help pay huge dividends in establishing an integral role for himself.
The difficulties of getting accustomed to head coach Jon Gruden’s offense have been well-documented by tight end Foster Moreau. Jones feels he has a much better grasp of the offense going into the 2020 NFL season, via Kyle Martin of the team’s official website:
“When you come into a middle of a season and try to learn someone’s playbook, there are small details that you may miss just naturally because it’s just so much,” Jones explained to the media Wednesday. “There is a lot of language, a lot of verbiage that goes into it. So, it being my second year essentially with the playbook, understanding what all is going to go into it, now I can be more versatile. Now I can move inside, now I can move outside. I can go X, I can go Z. And I can really understand the language of things and get these details down.”
Jones added that he already got a head start on making himself at home in Las Vegas:
“I wanted to get to Vegas as soon as possible,” Jones said. “Just commit to making this a home for myself, and establishing that relationship especially with ‘D.C.’ [Derek Carr] It was different from last year, transitioning into a team not really knowing anybody. Those are conversations that you would usually have in the offseason didn’t take place for me, so I was kind of playing catchup with the team all last year.
“This summer was very important for me just to get around the guys, especially get around him and understand his language, the way he talks. Just building a genuine relationship with him even outside of football, because the football stuff is going to take care of itself.”
Jones’ comments are indicative of the challenges that come for a young player still trying to find their footing in the NFL, let alone with a new team. The truncated season in the Raiders’ system has no given him plenty of confidence that he will be able to contribute in the 2020 campaign and potentially earn a long-term deal.
Of course, there is no shortage of competition for Jones when it comes to getting reps in practice. While he and Agholor are both hoping to spark a resurgence with their careers in Las Vegas, Ruggs and Edwards are still making the transition to the NFL.
With the start of the regular season rapidly approaching, Gruden likely already has an idea of how the pecking order for this group will look to kick off a new era at Allegiant Stadium.
With Tyrell Williams already suffering with an injury that will cost him the 2020 season though, Jones is a valuable depth piece to have in the organization.