Dec 4, 2013, 3:04 PM PDT
Upon hearing the term “Pro Bowl,” Oakland Raiders special teams standout Taiwan Jones politely asked if the interview could be conducted outside.
He quickly explained that his teammates would tease and taunt him if they heard the topic of conversation.
Jones, one of three Raiders players born in San Francisco, is quiet and shy when pressed about his accolades, but exuberant and energetic with his teammates on and off the field. He says he takes great pride in the fact that his name is being brought up lately in Pro Bowl conversations, but it’s hard to tell from his demeanor.
“Recently there’s been a little bit of buzz about it,” Jones admitted. “As far as myself, that’s always been a goal that I set at the start of the year. Just now, I’m starting to see a lot of fans hit me up and say something about it and a few reporters.”
Jones, 25, is a gifted athlete that possesses an impressive blend of speed and agility. There are several videos online that show him jumping out of pools, over cars, and on top of dumpsters. Most of those videos were filmed in high school and college, but he shocked his teammates by hurdling a car after a dinner this season.
It’s no surprise he makes a great gunner on special teams. By the time Marquette King’s punts are getting set to land, Jones is there waiting to make a play. He was drafted as a running back, converted to a cornerback, and recently was seen practicing at running back again. While he and the Raiders coaching staff try to find a permanent position for him, he’s thrilled to be able to help out on special teams.
“I don’t want to be just a roster filler,” Jones said. “I want to be able to make a difference each Sunday. I want to be able to contribute to the win.”
The fans and the media aren’t the only ones taking notice of what he’s doing.
“I’m noticing if you don’t have two people on him, or even if you do, it’s hard to stop him,” Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston said. “I’ve been telling him he’s doing a great job and he needs to keep it up.”
Contributing to the Raiders is particularly meaningful for Jones. He drives past the same streets he grew up on as he heads to the Oakland Coliseum on game day. He attended Deer Valley High School in Antioch and spent time living in Oakland.
“It means a lot to know that I was brought up by this community,” Jones said. “Now I’m able to give back by playing on Sundays and giving them all that I’ve got.”
Online voting for the 2014 Pro Bowl is underway and concludes on December 26. Jones is one of the few Raiders that may have a chance at making it.
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