Jones still showing flashes of good & bad

Jones still showing flashes of good & bad
November 10, 2012, 10:00 am
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Ben Jones is a rookie. And he’s still making rookie mistakes.

The Texans’ fourth-round pick out of Georgia started his second game as an NFL player last Sunday against the Bills, even though Antoine Caldwell was healthy enough to play.

Jones, 23, has played well, but as he and his coaches have noted, he still has plenty of room to grow.

“A lot of things you still have to work on,” Jones said. “Things you learn each week. Things you can fix each week. You try to fix something each week. There are things you see that you can improve so that’s what I’ve been doing, seeing one thing I can try to fix each week.”

Jones made his first start against the Ravens before the bye week in place of Caldwell, who suffered a concussion during the week. But by the time the game rolled around, Caldwell didn’t start but he was able to play. In fact, Caldwell actually 45 snaps (56 percent) to Jones’ 38 (48 percent).

Then, after the bye week, against the Bills, Jones started again and took the majority of the snaps at right guard. Jones took 47 snaps (73 percent), while Caldwell had just 17 snaps (27 percent).

Jones is now listed as the starting right guard on the team’s depth chart. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten playing time before he started. In his first game, he was in on 10 snaps and has played at least 23 in every game since. The Texans have used a rotation on the line but Jones has been getting more playing time as the year has gone on.

“Same thing, did some flashes of good and then he did some things that we wish he hadn’t done,” Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said about Jones’ game against the Bills. “That’s the way it is right now. We’ve got to keep coaching them up. Every rep matters good and bad, compliment them on the things that they do right, make sure we don’t have any repeat of the things that weren’t so good.”

And he might have plenty of room to improve but it looks like Jones has earned the starting right guard spot from Antoine Caldwell.

Jones credits playing with veterans like Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Wade Smith and Caldwell. He said he picks their brains as much as possible and will call on them whenever he has a question about a play or a protection.

The other thing that helps is going against the tough Texan defensive line in practice every day.

“When you’re doing pass rush against J.J. Watt every day, it definitely makes you a lot better pass guy and just trying out different things,” Jones said. “I try to help him with things, if he needs a different look. If he wants a jump set, I’ll give him that. I’m definitely going to cater what he does too.”

Jones played center with Georgia in college and started all 14 games there as a senior and was selected to play in the Senior Bowl. Since being drafted by the Texans, Jones has made the switch to guard with Myers’ owning the center job. Jones is listed as the backup center. It’s not uncommon for guards and centers to be interchangeable at the NFL level. Most backup centers in the league are able to play as a guard.

But Jones is able to start. And he’s getting the opportunity.

“Being up here, you only get so many chances,” Jones said, “so when you get an opportunity, you want to take advantage of it.”

And so far he is. Even if he still has things to fix.