JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With his future up in the air, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones admits that his mind sometimes wanders off on what might be.
He's staying focused enough, however, to have caught the attention of the coaching staff in what is becoming arguably his best training camp yet and is giving him the first hope he's had in a while.
Jones, 25, faces arraignment Monday on felony charges in his native Arkansas after he was arrested in early July and charged with possession of cocaine. He is expected in Washington County Circuit Court early Monday to enter a plea, according to a spokesman for the Washington County Prosecutors Office. Jones said he expects to be at practice Monday night.
"Sure, my mind wanders sometimes just as it would for any human being," said Jones, the Jaguars first-round draft pick in 2005.
Despite the lingering off-field issue and the thoughts it brings, Jones' performance and attitude has the team noticing him for the good he's doing during camp -- something that hadn't happened lately.
Having his job on the line -- especially in light of the aggravation he raised with his 2007 performance when he had a career-low 24 catches for 317 yards and was inactive for three games -- is enough catalyst to help shut off the wandering thoughts and sharpen the focus as best he can.
"They told me there was a spot on the team and I could earn it. I'm playing hard and practicing hard to earn it," Jones said. "A lot of it is a matter of not having any tissue issues. It makes a difference when you're out there every day and this is the first time in a long time that has happened."
As a result, he caught a touchdown pass off his back shoulder in a recent scrimmage and has been making plays in drills that the team expected. He should see a good amount of action in the team's preseason opener Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"He's been real solid. He's had a good start to camp," Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said. "He has given himself a real legitimate chance to have a positive effect on the team."
Receivers coach Todd Monken concurred and believes Jones is working hard on building trust he spent a year breaking down. Monken said the apparent turnaround started with the team's Organized Team Activities (OTAs) earlier in the summer after the frustrated Jaguars, who have been disappointed in the former Arkansas quarterback, signed free agent Jerry Porter from Oakland.
"It goes back to the OTAs," Monken said. "He's staying healthy. He's paying attention to the details of the game; alignments, assignments, by being involved. Not just being in meetings, but being involved. Hopefully this is another step for him."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press