Datone Jones said it felt “awkward,” sitting at home while watching his team play the Chicago Bears last weekend.
His routine was off. At home, the Green Bay Packers’ first-round pick from 2013 tried to visualize what his teammates were doing – their ride to the stadium, their pregame routine. His imagination was limited.
Suspended by the NFL for the Packers’ opener after receiving a marijuana citation in January, Jones couldn’t enter Soldier Field.
“I wasn’t involved, really,” Jones said. “The only thing I could do was sit there, take notes. Try to maintain my routine. Not being able to travel, not being with the guys, it threw me off.”
Jones returned to practice this week, and he’ll be on the field Sunday when the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks. His addition could help a Packers defense that was gashed for 189 rushing yards against the Bears, but Jones said he isn’t the missing link.
It’ll be the first time Jones steps onto a game field since the second week of the Packers’ preseason. He injured his knee during the Pittsburgh Steelers last month, but Jones said he feels fine now. If they were regular-season games, Jones said, he wouldn’t have had to miss any time.
Jones said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be rusty Sunday, but he took plenty of “mental reps” watching the Packers’ opener last week. He also attended team meeting, lifted weights and ran sprints to stay in shape.
“I was still competing,” Jones said. “I didn’t let (the suspension) break me at all. I’d known for a while the situation, since pretty much it happened. I knew all the repercussions, and I dealt with all the mental stuff. To me, it was getting over it, pushing myself in practice, competing in camp and pushing myself to become a better player.”
Jones hopes to show he is a better player this season, starting Sunday. He’s had an underwhelming first two years since the Packers drafted him with the 26th overall pick in 2013. Expected to be an explosive pass rusher off the edge, Jones has just five sacks in 29 games.
Naturally, Jones was pleased the Packers won last week. He just wanted to contribute. He said teammates have been supportive during the past weeks and months, knowing he would miss the opening game. Now, he’s looking forward to joining them on the field.
“It pretty much was like a week of me being hurt or something,” Jones said. “I really feel like I haven’t missed a beat yet. My involvement with the team, me being here, not skipping town or anything while I was suspended, just to show the guys that I’m very serious to be a part of this Green Bay Packers team. I just wanted to do my part.”
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