First-round pick Datone Jones was happy to have his family in attendance among the more than 63,000 fans at Packers Family Night. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Datone Jones, playing in his first NFL-sized atmosphere during Saturday’s “Family Night” intrasquad scrimmage, was proud to don his green and gold Packers’ uniform for the first time in front of his family from California.
“My family was able to travel 2,000 miles to watch a scrimmage, you know it means a lot for me,” Jones said. “You know it’s very expensive plane tickets but you know they’re supporting me and I just wanted to do well for them.”
Jones’ mother, Shondra Hall, raised her six children alone and was initially apprehensive about her son trying out for football when Compton (Calif.) High School football coach Calvin Bryant approached him about the sport during his sophomore year.
Prior to that conversation, the only sport the 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive lineman played was basketball, a sport he was drawn to after a third-grade teacher told Hall she should check him out for hyperactivity.
It turned out to be a perfect marriage as Jones eventually signed to play at UCLA, and in his senior year led the Bruins’ defensive linemen with a career-high 62 tackles.
In April, the Packers took him in the first round (26th overall) of the NFL draft and rewarded him with a four-year, $7.7 million deal on July 25, including $6.2 million in guaranteed money and a $3,992,072 million signing bonus
On Saturday, Jones’ family was among the more than 63,000 people at Lambeau Field for the annual scrimmage.
“It was wonderful, it was so surreal,” said Jones, who spent the month before training camp back home in California training. “I didn’t make it too big to where the game was too fast for me. You know I slowed it down, kept my composure and played hard.”
During the annual intrasquad scrimmage, Jones continued his strong first week performance. Jones beat starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga during one early team period, and in the excitement of the moment, almost wrapped up quarterback B.J. Coleman, who was not to be touched during the scrimmage.
Later, he also had another possible shot at fellow backup Graham Harrell. Both of the Packers young quarterbacks struggled but Jones said they just need to learn from the best.
“They’re great guys and they’re playing up against great guys on defense,” Jones said. “Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the NFL you know so he’s not going to make those mistakes. Those guys have to learn from him just like he learned from a great guy like Brett Favre, so they have to do the same with Aaron Rodgers. They have to utilize him and pick his brain.”
Given his new signing bonus, Jones has plans to move his mother and family out of Compton once things settle down. His youngest sister is a junior at a California Magnet school, but will attend UCLA next year to begin working toward a degree in neuroscience.
As for the scrimmage, it wrapped up a memorable first full week of training camp in the NFL for Jones.
“It went well,” Jones said. “I made sure I was running to the ball, I made sure I was executing and I made sure it wasn’t too big for me. I prepared for very hard in my off season over the summer so when I came into training camp I was well prepared and just made sure I was finishing.”
The Packers have Sunday off and their next public practice is Tuesday.
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