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Datone Jones looks to put quiet rookie season behind him

Jun. 3, 2014
 

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Datone Jones (right) said veterans B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett played a large role in keeping his head up during the rough spots. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media

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Datone Jones knows he didnít quite meet the lofty expectations associated with being a first-round draft pick during his rookie season.

Through the first week of training camp, it looked like the Packers had a 6-foot-4, 285-pound immediate difference-maker on their hands, but an ankle injury plagued Jones for most of the season.

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He played in all 16 regular-season games, but was mostly relegated to being an inside pass rusher in the Packersí dime sub-package. His 3Ĺ sacks were second-most on the defensive line, but still no what most expected.

Jones said veterans B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett played a large role in keeping his head up during the rough spots. Like Jones, Raji was hampered during most of his own rookie season in 2009 with a lingering ankle injury.

ďI didnít come out with 30 sacks like everybody expected,Ē Jones said. ďI felt like I finished strong. I felt like a lot of guys donít come into the NFL hot. Most guys, even a lot of legends across the NFL, you look at their numbers and what they did the first year. Itís not amazing but itís about what they do the following year. How did they get better?

ďThatís all who I am. I had a chance to go look at the film from last year and every day I come out making sure Iím progressing every day. Making sure Iím getting after it.Ē

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Jones stayed in Green Bay this offseason and worked out at Lambeau Field. The native Californian jokingly added he considers himself a ďWisconsiniteĒ these days after enduring a Wisconsin winter.

There is precedent for defensive linemen who have made large strides in their second season in Green Bay. Raji had his best season in 2010 with 6Ĺ sacks and Mike Daniels did the same this past season.

Although Pickett and veteran Johnny Jolly have yet to be re-signed, Jones has been picking the brain of newly signed defensive end Julius Peppers and is energized by the changes the Packers have made to the defensive scheme.

Now that heís feeling healthy again, Jones is motivated to show he belongs.

ďIím going to give you everything I got and thatís who Datone Jones is,Ē Jones said. ďI gave it my all last year. I left it all on the field. You canít really look back to last year anymore. What happened in the past is done. Now all I can do is progress every day so I can reach my goals to make myself happy and not be nervous.Ē

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