Jones' versatility could be important weapon for Bears in 2022


LAKE FOREST – Three days into training camp, we still don’t fully understand what the Bears’ offense will look like under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

We know the Bears plan to run the ball a fair amount, utilize the play-action bootleg, and get Justin Fields out of the pocket to make the most of his strengths. We also know the offensive line is a puzzle that currently can’t be solved, and the wide receiver room is full of players with a lot to prove.

We also know the Bears need third-round draft pick Velus Jones Jr. to be a reliable and dangerous target for Fields this season. But we don’t know just how the Bears will deploy the versatile rookie from Tennessee.

But it’s going to be in more ways than one.

“They’re moving me from Z, F, X,” Jones said Friday after practice. “They want me to know everything, so it’s been really fun getting to work with my QBs and stuff like that. But they know my abilities. They know the reason why they drafted me. I am really good with the ball in my hands. Wherever they need me to be, I’m just going to be there and execute.”

Jones has been splitting his time between offense and special teams, and I’d say he’s the early camp favorite to win the return job. Given his credentials in college and his game-breaking speed, the Bears would be foolish not to put him back there.

The Bears have thrown a lot at the 25-year-old Jones. He is taking it all in and has, to this point, not found it difficult to balance his receiving responsibilities with the return ones.

It helps that he has a budding star like Darnell Mooney to lean on.

“He’s a vet,” Jones said of Mooney. “Just the advice they give me, when it comes to looking at route concepts or how to run routes and tendencies when it comes to DBs. It’s just being a sponge, soaking it all in. And also, Equanimeous, he knows this offense really well, and he’s always giving me tips, special reminders. I can’t thank those guys enough. I’m just being a sponge and going out there and giving it my all.”

If the Bears’ offense is going to pack a punch this fall, it’ll be up to Jones, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, and Cole Kmet to provide Fields with pass-catching options not named Mooney. It wouldn’t hurt if N’Keal Harry rediscovered his first-round talent, either.

It’s clear the Bears are going to lean on Jones, though. His versatility will allow them to scheme up numerous ways to deploy the electric rookie. Even if his route-running isn’t super-polished by Week 1, Getsy can move Jones around and get the ball in his hands with screens, pop-passes, and jet sweeps.

The Bears need Velus Jones Jr. to be a factor this season. It sounds like they are trying to find anyway and every way to make that a reality.

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