The Chicago Bears took a lot of heat for drafting WR Velus Jones Jr. in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. His advanced age and limited college production left draft analysts confused by the pick. It was made worse considering the caliber of wide receivers — like George Pickens — who GM Ryan Poles could’ve selected one round earlier.
Through 10 games of the 2022 season, Jones hasn’t done anything to help Poles’ cause. He’s played so poorly that he’s been a healthy scratch over the last two weeks. Jones’ struggles on special teams, including game-changing muffed punts, led to mistrust from the coaches. And if Matt Eberflus, Luke Getsy, and the rest of Chicago’s coaching staff don’t have faith in their rookie playmaker, he just won’t see the field.
That could change against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. Jones is working hard to create another opportunity for reps, and his position coaches are taking notice.
“He’s doing a really good job of that at this point in time,” said wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert of Jones’ consistency in practice. “Hopefully, because I just said that, he’ll get a chance to see some snaps this week. We’ll see.”
The injury to running back Khalil Herbert — he’ll miss at least the next four games — means someone has to step up and fill in as the Bears’ kickoff returner. Jones is a logical choice.
“I’ve seen more and more determination,” said special teams coach Richard Hightower of Jones. “He’s always been determined since he has gotten here, but all rookies and all newcomers or first-year players, they really realize what the league is. We all realize stuff once we get experiences, we learn from them. I’ve seen nothing but positives from the kid.”
The Falcons should offer Jones and the rest of the Bears’ offense a chance to make some plays. Atlanta ranks last in pass defense and 18th against the run. Jones could factor as both a receiver and runner on offense and, with a big play or two, can quickly rewrite the story of his rookie year.