TJ Jones embraces larger role with career game
Detroit — Lions receiver TJ Jones just tries to go with the flow.
And on Sunday night, that led to the third-year pro having a career day on the national stage in a 20-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ford Field.
Jones was targeted eight times in the passing game — tied for the second most on the team with Golden Tate — and finished with four catches for a career-high 88 yards.
Jones’ previous high in a single game was 63 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 this season — a mark he surpassed in the first half alone with 65 yards.
Heading into the prime-time showdown against Pittsburgh's top-ranked pass defense, Jones said approached it just like he did every game — thinking that he’s going to have a larger role in the offense.
“Any time I'm able to step on the field, whether it's five plays a game or 50, I'm taking every play as it being my last,” Jones said. “I go into the game with the same mindset that in those five plays, I could get five passes or in the 50 plays I could get five passes.
“So, I think it's just mentally being strong and not letting how many ever plays I'm playing either psych me out or get me too riled up.”
With Tate dinged up and battling through a shoulder injury, Jones said he put it upon himself to step up when called upon but focused on feeling the game out and making the plays as they came to him.
“I'm the type of person if I get too riled up or I think too much into it, I overthink it and that's when you may drop a ball or you overthink a route and run the wrong route,” Jones said. “I just try to keep in the back of my mind that, yes, my role may be a little expanded due to injuries but not to overthink it."
With his mind at ease, Jones made a pair of impressive catches along the sideline and managed to hang onto one of them despite taking a big hit.
In total, he finished with three catches of 20-plus yards, including a long of 34 yards, and was nearly able to come down with a toe-dragging touchdown in the second quarter.
“It was fun to make plays,” Jones said. “It was fun to be out there to make some big plays, have some bigger catches, but at the end of the day the loss overshadows it so you can only be so happy when your team doesn't come out with the win.”