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Zay Jones striving to 'plant some roots down' in Raiders offense

Zay Jones is a man of completion.

That's what possessed him to change his jersey number to No. 7, and to continue his career in the Silver and Black.

Jones is going into his third season with the Raiders, which could be his most critical season with the team. The wide receiver room has looked competitive this Training Camp with Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards improving, along with the offseason additions of John Brown and Willie Snead IV. Jones has continued to stay in the mix and find footing in the offense through his versatility. He's been seen lining up at wideout and slot receiver roles throughout camp, trying to make himself a jack-of-all-trades among the receivers.

"It takes a lot of focus, a lot of studying, late nights of going over the playbook and really evaluating each spot and understanding my assignment and my job," Jones said. "You're one play away from being at any spot, at least that's the case for me.

"I think what I pride myself [in] is versatility. The ability to be able to move and play in any spot."

While Jones hasn't put up insane numbers in his time with the Raiders, he's developed great chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr and become one of his more dependable receivers. Jones is excited to continue his relationship with Carr and showcase the extensive amount of work they've gotten together the past two offseasons.

"I really wanted to establish myself on this team and I built a really good rapport with Derek over a long offseason in the 2020 COVID season," he said. "It wasn't something that I was quite ready to just give up on or to move away from. I really wanted to plant some roots down and really establish myself and become a part of this team and prove that I belonged here and that I could do something helpful for this football team.

"That was my mindset. It wasn't about trying to seek money elsewhere. It was just wanting to finish something that I started in my journey."

In Jones' journey with the Raiders, he's also making a return to the No. 7 jersey number. Jones wore the jersey number in high school and at Eastern Carolina University, and jumped at the opportunity to get back in it after the uniform number expansion proposal passed earlier this offseason. The No. 7 has a "very personal connection" to Jones as it "is a number of completion," referring to the number of days God took to make the Earth, according to the Bible in the book of Genesis. Jones, of course, had to get permission from his head coach first before the change.

"He was like 'No. 7? That's an ugly number.' He was like, 'No good receivers wear low digit numbers.'"

Jones had to bog Head Coach Jon Gruden's memory with Fred Biletnikoff (who wore No. 25) and Cliff Branch (who wore No. 21). Gruden then told his receiver he "would see what he could do." Jones soon became the first Raiders player to make a number change as part to the new rule.

Gruden has been a fan of Jones since the Raiders traded for him from the Buffalo Bills, labeling him as one of the more underrated players on the roster.

"He's possibly our highest conditioned athlete," said Gruden. "We traded for him. Mike [Mayock] made a great trade a couple years ago. We were in real need; he learned our offense in a week, and he was starting. He's in the mix now. He can play X, he can play Z, he can play anywhere on our offense, honestly.

"He's versatile, he's tough, he's smart and he's a great competitor, so I wouldn't count him out."

The Raiders invited local high school football teams to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center to watch practice during 2021 Training Camp.

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