Day One is officially in the books for Zay Jones.
After the Raiders traded for the athletic receiver following their statement win over the Chicago Bears, Jones took part in his first practice as a member of the Silver and Black Monday afternoon at the team’s Alameda, Calif., facility.
“It’s fun,” said Jones. “I’m enjoying the environment. I like the atmosphere here. The guys are really welcoming. The coaching staff is awesome – legendary guys on this team, starting with our head coach. I’m very excited to be here.”
Speaking of Jon Gruden, while the rest of the Raiders were enjoying some well-deserved time away from the office, Professor Gruden and Jones were in the playbook, going through a crash course on the team’s offense for the newest addition to the roster.
And during their time together, one thing became crystal clear for Jones about Gruden.
“That guy loves football,” Jones explained. “He loves the game of it. He’s one of the hardest working men that I’ve seen. We hit the playbook pretty hard, just going over everything, just trying to get me caught up to speed. The offense is very complex, a lot of stuff that goes into it. Guys have been here since training camp, and I’ve been here only for a few days, so I’m trying to catch up to the pace that they’re at.”
After a strong finish to 2018 that saw him record five touchdowns in the month of December, Jones’ productivity cooled off this season – he only had seven receptions through five games – but although he was surprised the Bills sent him west in exchange for a 2021 draft pick, the East Carolina product harbors no animus to the team that drafted him.
“I was shocked,” Jones said. “I didn’t know it was coming, didn’t know it was happening. I didn’t ask to be out of Buffalo, but it’s something that transpired, and that’s the nature of the business. I wish those guys the best, but I’m happy to be in this locker room, and be wanted by this organization.”
With the revolving door of players lined up at wide receiver through the first five weeks of the regular season, Jones was indeed wanted – and needed – by the Raiders, and while his status for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field is still undetermined, Jones is looking forward to contributing in whatever way he’s asked to by the coaching staff.
“I’m going to try to be ready to go against the Green Bay Packers, whether I’m up, down, whatever it is, I’m going to be a great teammate on the sideline for my guys, or if I’m in the game, I’m trying to make plays for my team,” Jones said. “That’s where I’m at with it, it’s a day-by-day process. Today was Day One for me. I think it’s trending in the right direction, just understanding everything, because when the bullets are flying, it’s different than just on paper.”
Regardless of when Jones makes his Raiders debut – whether it’s Sunday at Lambeau, the following week in Houston, or sometime down the road – the Silver and Black are getting an athletic player who can hopefully provide some much-needed stability out wide for Derek Carr.
“Just a hard work ethic, that’s what I’m about,” Jones said when asked about his game. “Versatility. I’m going to give this team everything I have, 100 percent effort, and just a playmaker. I want to make plays. I made plays in my career, done it, put it on tape, so hopefully I can continue to just making plays for this football team. But like I said before, this team was good before I got here. These guys have something special going on here. I’m glad to be brought in here, and to help this team ultimately be where we want to be.”