Perfect fit for Ravens' J. Jones Defensive tackle glad to be reunited with former linemates

August 28, 1996|By Kevin Langbaum | Kevin Langbaum,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The city has changed, the uniforms have changed and the name is even different, but a lot of the faces are the same for the newest Raven, defensive tackle James Jones.

Jones, who signed with the team Sunday, is reunited with teammates, coaches and friends from Cleveland, where he played from 1991 to 1994.

He played on a defensive line with Anthony Pleasant and Rob Burnett, still the anchors of the team's line. He broke into the league the same year as starting safety Eric Turner. Jones was Cleveland's third-round draft choice in 1991, Turner the team's top pick.

He also worked with defensive line coach Jacob Burney, who joined the team in 1994.

Jones started all 16 games as a rookie and again the following season. He has averaged just over 45 tackles per season for his career.

"I'm glad to be here," Jones said. "I think this is going to be the best fit, being back with guys like Anthony Pleasant and Rob Burnett who I played with for four years. I know what they like to do and they know what I like to do. I think I can really add to this defensive line."

Jones left the Browns for Denver before last season, but was waived by the Broncos on July 18. With tackles Mike Frederick and Rick Lyle banged up in camp, the Ravens were thin in the interior line and speculation about signing Jones grew.

"Every time I passed [vice president of player personnel] Ozzie [Newsome] I just mentioned his name a little bit, subliminally, so I could keep it in his head," Burnett said. "We knew that we needed someone and he was by far the best person available."

The need was magnified Aug. 20 when the team announced that Larry Webster was suspended for the year for violating the league substance abuse policy. Five days later, Jones was signed.

"It was a sigh of relief because we lost a pretty good player there in Larry Webster," Burney said. "You're bringing in a guy that's a quality guy that you know has played in the league and has won in the league."

Jones practiced with the team for the first time Monday after being off for about four weeks. "It felt like four months, though," he said.

"I'm just trying to get into the swing of practicing and trying to get comfortable with this defense," he said. "I'm coming in without any feel of what they're playing out there. I'm going to do the best I can to get out there Sunday."

Fitting in with the defense shouldn't be a problem for Jones.

"He helps the people around him which I think is tremendously important," Burney said. "Not only the way he does the job but the way he carries himself. You just like being around the guy."

Coach Ted Marchibroda did not know how much action Jones would see against the Raiders, but he indicated that Jones would play.

"It's just a pleasure to have him back and I don't think he can be in a better situation than he is here," Burnett said. "He became a real good friend of mine through the years on top of being a guy I enjoy playing with. I'm just happy for him and happy that he's here."

Next for Ravens

Regular-season opener

Opponent: Oakland Raiders

When Sunday, 1 p.m.

Site: Memorial Stadium

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Coming Friday: Ravens Extra starts a 17-week run with a profile of safety Eric Turner.

Coming Saturday: NFL '96 features Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, a position-by-position breakdown of the Ravens and a look at the league.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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