Jones caught a pass for seven yards in the first quarter of a 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, October 2, and he missed a deep shot by quarterback Tom Brady in the third quarter. Jones didn’t play again after the missed target. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles offered few details on what happened with Jones, who came back from a knee injury after missing two games.
“He just never loosened back up for the second half,” Bowles explained on Monday, October 3. “So really no point in putting him back in there and making it worse.”
Jones has been dealing with a torn PCL in his knee, which won’t need surgery according to a prior report by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer. Bowles said that Jones actually “could have played” in Week 3, but staff “wanted him to get healthier” instead, Bowles said on September 30.
Signed right before training camp, Jones came to the Bucs with loads of promise despite recent injury history. The two-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler dealt with injuries the past two seasons in Tennessee and Atlanta. He mustered only 19 games played in that span with 1,205 yards receiving and four touchdowns. He usually exceeded those numbers in one season when healthy.
Jones Felt ‘Amazing’ When the Regular Season Kicked Off
Before WeeK 1, Jones claimed he moved past the injury-riddled seasons of the past two years. Jones showed it, too, with three catches for 69 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, which included the longest pass play for the Bucs this season — Brady’s 48-yard shot to Jones during the 19-3 win.
“I feel amazing,” Jones told the media on September 9. “I don’t have anything that is lingering, anything that is holding me back, anything that I am unsure about. I am ready to go.”
Now, Jones’ season looks in doubt — eerily similar to 2020 and 2021 where he missed one or two games at a time due to re-injuring a hamstring. Recovery from a partial torn PCL tear can take up to 10 days according to the Cleveland Clinic, and a skill position player can play through it. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott played with a torn PCL last season per DallasCowboys.com.
“We will see,” Bowles said about Jones on Monday. “It’s still early in the season. We want to make sure we get a healthy guy before we make that evaluation.”
Bucs to Make a Move at Receiver?
Jones’ inconsistent availability begs the question where the Bucs go after four weeks of football with Jones hardly playing. The Bucs already signed Cole Beasley off the street before Week 3, and he played immediately against the Green Bay Packers, and he caught a pass against the Chiefs.
Bucs receiver Breshad Perriman also missed time due to a knee injury this season, and Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden haven’t produced this season. That leaves the Bucs mainly relying on Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage — a talented trio with little depth behind them.
Tampa Bay could find another talented receiver among remaining free agents or pull a trade with another squad before the November 1 trade deadline.