The Bears selected Jones with the 71st overall pick in Round 3 this year, and after flashing in the team’s second preseason game, Jones has been out with a hamstring injury. When speaking to the media on September 28, Bears coach Matt Eberflus strongly suggested Jones would be ready to go soon, which would be especially important in light of the team recently placing receiver Byron Pringle on injured reserve.
“Hopefully Velus can be up for this game, we’ll see where that goes in terms of the injury that he’s had,” Eberflus said. “Hopefully that can happen this week.”
When asked how difficult it is to gauge how much to use Jones considering his recent lack of reps, Eberflus suggested the rookie playmaker suffered a bit of a setback in recent weeks, which Jones later confirmed.
Jones Confirms He Suffered Setback in Recent Weeks
“He’s been conditioning, working,” Eberflus said about Jones and his recovery. “We have limited reps during the course of practice. We’ll get some practice reps and we’ll see where he is and then we’ll work him in,” the Bears coach added, before suggesting the team had to change its recovery plan for Jones. “We have a plan. We’ve had a plan for him to come back in there and then we had to move it back a little bit. It’s been in place for a couple weeks.”
Jones also spoke to the media on September 28, and he confirmed he had a bit of a setback, which would explain why he has missed over a month of action.
“It was really tough at the beginning, but I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason,” Jones said, per Shaw Media. “So I just stuck to the course, made sure I was on top of my rehab, doing anything and everything I can possibly do to get back out there.”
“I definitely had a setback, and that’s why it extended a little,” he added. “I mean, it happens, but it just shows how willing I am to get back out there.”
Jones Is Looking Forward to Getting His Chance
As a senior with the Tennessee Volunteers, Jones averaged 27.3 yards per kickoff return in 2021, in addition to 15.1 yards per punt return. Thus, the Bears will surely utilize him in some capacity on special teams when he is 100% healthy. Mentally and emotionally, Jones has been itching to get back on the field for a while.
“My heart, my head, my soul is in it, but if my hammy’s not in it, that’s an issue,” Jones added. “So, every week I’m looking forward to getting on the field. … We’re just going to stack every day, each day at a time.”
As a receiver in 2021, Jones hauled in 62 passes for 807 yards and seven touchdowns with the Volunteers. He also averaged 8.3 yards after the catch last year, which was tied for 16th in the nation. Considering his playmaking potential, the Bears are hoping he can give quarterback Justin Fields a much needed weapon on offense in addition to his contributions to the return game.
“I can help him out a lot,” Jones said, referring to Fields. “That’s why they drafted me early in the third round. That’s really been on my mind. I’ve been visualizing that and manifesting, so when that day comes, I’m definitely going to go out there and give it my all, and show everybody what I can do, and prove it to myself.”
Looks like that day is going to be here soon.