NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21: Jacoby Jones #12 of the Houston Texans is tackled by Anthony Waters #59 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21 2010 in New Orleans Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Jacoby Jones was the Ravens biggest name signing on the the free agent market in 2012. Jones will be used as the primary punt returner and possibly as a kick off return man as well.
Everyone seems to know about Jones' shortcomings on the field since being drafted 73rd over all in the third round of the 2007 draft, but he has had his bright spots as well. Jones is an imposing figure on the football field standing 6'3" and weighing nearly 200 lbs. he can be a force to be reckoned with in the return game as he is hard to bring down once he gets that big body moving. This is something the Ravens have not had in a returner. However, Baltimore fans have seen how other big body returners like Jones and Cleveland Browns' return specialist Josh Cribbs can create problems for smaller special team defenders.
Jones had, perhaps, his best year as a punt returner in 2011 when he totaled 49 returns for 518 yards and a touchdown. H=is longest return on the year was 79 yards and he also amassed 1,047 all purpose yards for Houston.
Until this past season he was also the Texans primary kick off returner as well. Although effective the Texans pulled him off of kick off duties due to ball security issues. His best season returning kick offs was 2009 in which he tallied 24 returns for 638 yards with a long of 95 yards. He also set a career high in all purpose yards with 1,523.
Jones' skills as a return man have never been in question however. The most questionable part of his game has been his shortcomings as a receiver as the number two option behind all world receiver Andre Johnson. His two best years as a receiver came in 2009 when he reached the end zone six times, a career high, and 2010 when he logged 51 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns. If he were able to match the production of either of those two seasons as the Baltimore Ravens third receiver, the team would have a serious triple threat receiving core with Jones, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
For some reason Jones has never been able to put it all together in one season though. Perhaps the pressure of being the number two to such a big time play maker in Houston was too much for the raw but powerful wide out. Here in Baltimore he will be an integral part of a receiving core that will do its best to find roles for each player to show off their unique capabilities. Perhaps once moved to the number three option Jones can finally take advantage of his unique combination of size and speed against other teams nickle and dime corners and safeties.
Jacoby will definitely garner the return responsibilities for Baltimore right of the bat but he has an up hill battle as the teams third option at wide receiver. Perhaps the biggest training camp battle will be for this position as the Ravens have several young, intriguing option to fill that role. None however can match the NFL experience that Jones brings to the table. This alone gives him a leg up on the competition right out of the gate. There are some players that have more experience in the Ravens system such as Tandon Doss and La'Quan Williams who have both looked impressive in OTA's thus far.
One thing is certain though. Jacoby Jones will see the field a lot in 2012. Whether it be on special teams or lined up on offense as a receiver, the Ravens did not give him seven million dollars over two seasons for him to sit the bench. He will most definitely be a player to keep an eye on this season.