GREEN BAY — Josh Jones admitted Wednesday that while patience might indeed be a virtue, it’s not one that he really possesses.
That’s why the Green Bay Packers second-year safety is ecstatic about his opportunity to be a factor on defense in the wake of the team’s decision to release Jermaine Whitehead on Tuesday.
That move, which came a week after former Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was traded to Washington for a 2019 fourth-round pick, puts Jones in position to start Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins and play major snaps the rest of the season.
That’s a big deal considering Jones, who played 730 snaps on defense as a rookie second-round pick last year, had played only four defensive snaps this season before finally getting on the field during Sunday night’s 31-17 loss to New England. Jones played 51 of a possible 71 defensive snaps against the Patriots.
“It’s tough (on) anybody who loves the game. Obviously, you want to be out there,” Jones said Wednesday. “But you’ve just got to keep trusting the process, man. That’s the big thing.
“Sometimes we get caught up in wanting what’s now, but we don’t see the future. We don’t see the good in waiting. And that’s what I was able to learn earlier in the year. Bide my time until when my name is called, and then make the plays and you’ll continue to be out there.”
As much as Jones played as a rookie, he made a number of mistakes because of his inexperience last season, including giving up a critical touchdown in the team’s critical Dec. 17 loss at Carolina in quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ return from a broken right collarbone. Then a late-in-training-camp ankle injury this summer further stunted his development and sidelined him for the first three weeks of the regular season.
Once healthy, he was the odd man out of a three-safety rotation of Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice and Whitehead. Brice left Sunday night’s game with an ankle injury and was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s light practice. Even if Brice is good to go, Jones should see action alongside veteran cornerback-turned-safety Tramon Williams, who switched positions after Clinton-Dix was traded.
“I still prepared like I was going to be out there. I didn’t change, my work ethic didn’t change, my approach to the game didn’t change,” Jones said. “What I will say is when you have a guy that’s passionate about the game, it hurts to not be out there. That’s what affected me.”
Meanwhile, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Whitehead, who was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, wasn’t jettisoned solely because of his personal foul penalty and ejection against the Patriots. But, he acknowledged, first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst is setting a tone that’s different than the one established by his predecessor, Ted Thompson.
“Like all personnel moves, there’s a lot that goes into it,” McCarthy said. “I think clearly the pattern and the emphasis of what’s going on currently with our personnel department, I think the direction Brian is, (as he puts) his imprint on the football team, there’s been change, particularly just the last two weeks.
“This is a decision that’s been made and there’s new opportunity for other players.”
The Packers designated for return wide receiver/kick returner Trevor Davis, who took part in his first practice Wednesday since being placed on IR with a hamstring injury after the regular-season opener against Chicago. He’s not eligible to play until next Thursday’s game at Seattle but after trading Ty Montgomery to Baltimore last week, the Packers surely are looking for a jolt in their return game.
“I feel great. I’ve felt great for a while now. It’s good to get back out there, good to play and finally knock the dust off,” Davis said. “We’ve had our struggles (in the return game). We’ve had some good returns but a lot of them have been brought back, especially in the kickoff return game. I feel like that would definitely change our average and where we’re ranked right now. I’ll go out there and do the best I can to try to get us back up.”
Designating Davis for return means the Packers can only use that designation one more time this season. They could save it for wide receiver Geronimo Allison, who went on IR Tuesday because of a core muscle injury and would be eligible to return for the playoffs if the Packers reached the postseason. Or they could bring back former UW-Whitewater star Jake Kumerow, who remains on IR and hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury during the second week of preseason play.
“That’s open for discussion,” McCarthy said of bringing back Kumerow.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left Sunday night’s game with a knee injury, was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday – an encouraging sign for his availability against the Dolphins. … Dolphins coach Adam Gase said on a conference call with Wisconsin reporters that Brock Osweiler will again get the start Sunday. … Both McCarthy and Rodgers praised Thompson, who will enter the Packers Hall of Fame in May. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Ted Thompson,” McCarthy said, calling it “a privilege and honor to work with him for over a decade.” Rodgers, meanwhile, said, “Ted drafted me, so I’ll always have a sincere love and appreciation for him.” … Rodgers said he didn’t wear anything on his left knee against the Patriots – the first game he’s played without a brace – and that he hopes not to wear anything against the Dolphins, either. … Miami, which was fined by the NFL for violating injury-report rules last week, listed 19 players on its initial report this week. ... Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez (ankle) was able to practice on a limited basis but cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) did not participate and is unlikely to play.