Jones expected to have sizable impact
New safety touted for size, toughness
Monday May 05, 2003
By Brian Allee-Walsh
Free safety Tebucky Jones brings a physical presence to the Saints' secondary seldom seen during the franchise's 37-year history.
He possesses the speed and cover skills of a cornerback, the size of an outside linebacker (6 feet 2, 230 pounds) and the hard-nosed mentality of a middle linebacker.
All reasons why Saints officials acquired Jones in a trade with the New England Patriots in March and signed him to a seven-year, $29.25 million contract that includes a $6 million signing bonus.
"He's a big man," Saints coach Jim Haslett said during the Saints' three-day minicamp that concluded Sunday. "He's got a certain presence out there. I think he's ready to blossom."
Although Jones is only one piece of the Saints' defensive makeover, he is expected to play an important role on a unit that yielded at least 20 points in all but one game last season.
Haslett said Jones is a proven winner and has a Super Bowl championship ring as evidence. In fact, Jones' last appearance in the Superdome came in Super Bowl XXXVI (Feb. 3, 2002) as a member of the New England Patriots.
The Patriots, with Jones starting at free safety, beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17.
"I'm committed to winning," said Jones, a first-round draft pick by New England in 1998. "I've won before, and I'm trying to bring that mind-set here. I'm looking for another ring. I see a very young, very fast defense and our offense can score 30 points a game, so it seems like it can be done here."
Jones said he seldom wears the ring in public but plans to show it to his new teammates at the appropriate time.
"Hey, that's what we play for, the No. 1 thing," Jones said. "It's good to go to the Pro Bowl and all that, but our No. 1 thing is to win a ring. You see some guys have been to 10 Pro Bowls, but they've never won a Super Bowl. So in my mind, they haven't fulfilled the true goal.
"I'm hungry, I'm greedy. One isn't enough. I want one every year. When I won it here in New Orleans, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay here and go to sleep here. There's no feeling like it. You can't even explain it."
Saints officials targeted Jones soon after the season ended, citing his versatility during five seasons with the Patriots.
Haslett and Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi saw Jones as an answer to one of their team's major problems in 2002: an inability to stop the run when opponents spread the field and went to three- and four-receiver sets.
"Tebucky has speed and range, and he's a big man," Venturi said. "He gives you a little different dimension at safety than you normally would have. I've always liked him.
"We feel that his versatility -- his ability to play corner and safety -- will allow us to play some regular defense in our sub-package situations. That has a shotgun effect. If you can do that, it can help your run defense. Our biggest run problems last year came in nickel defense."
Jones, known as a "head-hunter" in the Patriots' secondary, said he plans to help solve the Saints' problems.
"As a safety, you want those wide receivers to fear catching the ball over the middle," Jones said. "You want that receiver to look at you and not the ball when he goes for a ball over the middle.
"When you see their arms become shorter -- we call it crocodile arms -- or the receiver diving to the ground so he won't get hit, then you know you got their heart. That's basically what I'm going to try to do back there."
Jones expected to have sizable impact
Great post pak. Is Tebucky the defensive leader that we\'ve all been talking about? It sounds like it...
\"I\'m committed to winning,\" said Jones, a first-round draft pick by New England in 1998. \"I\'ve won before, and I\'m trying to bring that mind-set here. I\'m looking for another ring. I see a very young, very fast defense and our offense can score 30 points a game, so it seems like it can be done here.\"
\"...our No. 1 thing is to win a ring. You see some guys have been to 10 Pro Bowls, but they\'ve never won a Super Bowl. So in my mind, they haven\'t fulfilled the true goal.
\"I\'m hungry, I\'m greedy. One isn\'t enough. I want one every year. When I won it here in New Orleans, I didn\'t want to leave. I wanted to stay here and go to sleep here. There\'s no feeling like it. You can\'t even explain it.\"
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