Two veteran defenders who had to prove themselves in last night’s preseason finale did exactly what they needed to do - showed they’ve still got it.
Playing in their first preseason game for the Broncos, Su’a Cravens and Adam Jones both came out of the gate raring to go - and although their stats were thin, their impact was solid.
Jones’ first play on the field was a 22-yard kick return, which he followed up with a 30-yard kick return on the next drive.
Broncos CB Adam Jones, who's had the team's first kickoff and punt return tonight, is tied for 3rd among all active players in career KR/PR TDs with five. He trails only Darren Sproles (PHI, 9) & Ted Ginn Jr. (NO, 7).— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) August 31, 2018
“It felt good, just to get out there and run around and catch the ball. It felt good back on punt return and kick return,” Jones said, adding that his play in coverage was “pretty good,” he thought. “One or two snaps, I could have been a little tighter, but I felt pretty good.”
And Jones didn’t mind the beating on returning kicks.
“Oh yeah, it felt good to be hit. That’s what I needed,” he said. “I’m eager and ready to prepare myself for Week 1.”
Coach Vance Joseph liked what he saw too.
“I thought Adam played well. He had three returns. He wanted to get hit, and he got hit tonight. He feels good about that,” Joseph said. “He had a great week of practice. I’m pleased with him. He’s on the right track.”
Cravens had two solo tackles and one combined for his stats on the night, but his first hit was a doozy. Coming from across field to help Josey Jewell (who had a great game, by the way) take down Elijhaa Penny, Cravens lost his helmet in the process. He bounced up without a scratch.
“It felt good, felt like it was a year overdue,” Cravens said, adding that he thought he played “alright” but he was expecting to hear from his fellow defensive backs about a few errors. “Our DB’s, we are a tight group, we hold everybody accountable. I had a mental error on the field now that I think about it, so I have to hear about it from them as soon as we get in the meeting room.”
Joseph liked seeing his young safety play without holding back.
“I was impressed with Su’a, how physical he played. That’s what he was in Washington,” the coach said. “He was in the box, he was a physical tackler and he showed that tonight.”
Aside from getting the first catches and hits out of the way, both players have their eyes on the bigger prize in a week - playing for real.
Cravens said normally he watches TV to fall asleep, but the night before the Cardinals’ game, he was in his iPad, studying.
“I believe that the game is 30 percent physical and 70 percent mental. I have been playing this game since I was six years old, so for me it’s second nature. Mentally I wanted to make sure I was locked in,” he said. “It was a Week 4 preseason game, but for me, I took it as seriously as I possibly could just so I was there mentally and ready to play.”
For Jones, who has a few more years on his pro resume than Cravens, the return to the game is a little different, but the eagerness to play is the same.
“I’m not doing this just to do it. If I didn’t feel like I couldn’t make an impact on the team and help these guys out, I would definitely have stayed at home,” Jones said. “This is something I love to do, I’m still playing at a high level and I enjoy it. If anybody knows me and sees me, one thing they’ll tell you is, ‘He loves playing football.’”