|Julius Jones still sharing|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 26 July 2008 14:28|
Demoted by the Cowboys last year and then set free by Dallas in the offseason, Jones is two days into his new life as a running back in Seattle's serene training camp. Practices are closed to the public.
Cowboys camp in Oxnard, Calif., is anything but closed.
``Yeah, definitely a difference: 10,000 less fans,'' Jones said with a sigh Saturday. ``It's ridiculous, isn't it (with Dallas)? I don't know what you call it. It's like a circus. I mean, they've got rides in the background.''
He calls his new environment ``perfect,'' says he feels ``fresh.''
``You can really focus on football,'' Jones said. ``It's a lot different, man.''
But not really.
His new coach has already said Jones and perennial backup Maurice Morris will be co-starters entering the season.
Jones thought he was done sharing when he left Dallas and Marion Barber, to sign a four-year contract with Seattle worth almost $12 million in March. Then in April the Seahawks released Shaun Alexander, further clearing Jones' path back to stardom.
Jones, 26, was thought to be the centerpiece to Seattle's remodeling of its condemned running game. The Seahawks also signed burly runner T.J. Duckett, hired former Kansas City offensive coordinator Mike Solari as line coach and signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle from Carolina.
The idea was that where Alexander waited for running lanes that were slow to develop with an iffy offensive line, Jones will simply burst through. Seattle also thought Jones would better fit its plan to have backs catch more passes this season.
``Both Julius and Mo will both play. I'm looking at it right now as if we have two starters at that position. And that's how I talk to the players about it and that's how I'm going to kind of approach it during the season,'' coach Mike Holmgren said.
``I kind of know what I'm asking Mo and Julius to do. In this day and age, you want to be 'The Man,' you know. And I'm going to play both of them. I think I'm trying to convince them - and so far they've understood it - that it will help both of them. And it'll certainly help our football team if I can keep them both fresh and somewhat healthy.''
This is OK with Jones - for now. He is still learning Holmgren's intricate offense and its varying formations; Jones particularly enjoys the ones that employ him as a wide receiver.
``You know what? I've got a lot to learn,'' he said. ``Mo knows the offense way better than I do. He's been here in this offense for a long time. I'm still learning. So once I figure out the offense, play and not think, maybe things will change.
``But for right now ... I don't want to mess up out there. I don't want Coach Holmgren on my case. He's a big man. A big man.''
Yet the guy who's been 'The Man' at Notre Dame, and longed to be that guy in Dallas isn't content to co-star in Seattle.
``Obviously, the coaches and the organization know what I can do. They brought me in here,'' he said.
Asked if he wants show the Cowboys they erred in choosing Barber over him, Jones' eyes grew.
``Of course. Definitely. Definitely,'' he said. ``And God willing, I will so them - and everybody else.''
He's already looking forward to Thanksgiving, and not because he loves turkey. The Seahawks will play at Dallas in the Cowboys' annual holiday game.
``I've got it marked, I can tell you that much,'' he said. ``I can't wait for it.''
The shifty, versatile Morris is fine with this arrangement, too. He's used to sharing: he has 14 brothers and sisters.
And it beats the bench. Morris has been there for most of seven seasons.
``My thing has been the same since Day One: Whenever I get the opportunity, make the best of it,'' Morris said.
In 2005, the Seahawks - With Alexander at his best - were third in NFL with 153.6 yards rushing per game. They led the league in points scored. Not coincidentally, they ended up in their only Super Bowl.
Since then, 60 percent of the offensive line has been replaced. Two seasons of injuries and ineffectiveness led to Alexander's release.
And now this, Holmgren's two-headed plan to improve the league's 20th-ranked rushing offense from 2007.
``The question will come up later I'm sure: How many snaps?'' Holmgren said. ``I'm not going to count them. I'm just going to play it that way.
``I like Julius Jones. And I'm glad we got him.''