The football season has barely ended for Oakland Raiders running back Taiwan Jones, but he can’t wait for the next one to begin.
Jones is back where he feels he belongs: in the backfield. The former Eastern Washington star had spent the last three years on defense and special teams, but got a fresh start with new Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.
“I feel like I’m in a very good place now,” said Jones, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Raiders in 2011, but was moved two years later to cornerback. “I feel like I can contribute a lot more.”
Playing behind starter Latavius Murray, Jones appeared in eight games at running back. He had 16 carries for 74 yards, plus another 106 through the air.
The highlight cam eon Nov. 1, when Jones caught a sideline pass from Raider quarterback Derek Carr in the backfield, then outraced the New York Jets for a 59-yard touchdown.
“Once I hit that gear I was gone,” Jones said.
That gave the Raiders a 28-6 third-quarter lead in a game they would go on to win 34-20.
“It was a good year,” Jones said. “I got the opportunity to make a few extra plays, and it gives me confidence, knowing that I can make those plays.”
Jones, who is entering the final year of a three-year, $4.36 million contract, also is a fixture on special teams.
The Raiders exceeded expectations last year, going 7-9. “It feels good, being part of this turnaround. It sort of reminds me of my time at Eastern. We definitely exceeded expectations.”
Jones said those words on Thursday, on the fifth anniversary of Eastern winning the FCS national title.
“It was a sweet journey that paid off in the end,” Jones said.
Jones said he still follows the Eagles and caught a game last year while meeting with former teammates Bo Levi Mitchell and Matt and Zach Johnson. Coincidentally, he was joined on the Raiders roster this year by former EWU safety Tevin McDonald.
“I didn’t even know he played at Eastern until we had a chance to talk – that was cool,” Jones said.
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