ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Donald Jones #19 of the Buffalo Bills runs after a catch against Ronnie Brown #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Donald Jones - whom head coach Chan Gailey said on Monday is "ahead" of the team's other receivers in competition for a starting job - has been getting work as a slot receiver of late, according to BuffaloBills.com.
It's a return to the position that he plays as an undrafted rookie free agent for Jones, who served primarily as a slot receiver in 2010 after Roscoe Parrish suffered a season-ending injury. As the No. 4 receiver that year, Jones showed flashes of potential in recording 18 receptions for 213 yards and a touchdown.
It was only after the Bills traded Lee Evans last August that Jones was widely considered an outside option for the Bills.
Jones again showed flashes of potential during a brief run as a starter in 2011, but did not show much discernible improvement - and his move to the outside adversely affected not only his production after the catch, but the ways in which the Bills could use him. A physical and willing blocker, Jones was a key part of the Bills' ability to run out of spread sets as a rookie, but that value was lost when he became a starter.
Strength and toughness are the defining traits of Jones as a player. While the team is clearly interested to see if he can become the type of outside threat they envisioned him being when they traded Evans, they're also wise to have Jones in their back pocket in the slot, as an argument can be made that his upside is better in that role than it is on the edge.