It didn't take a doctor or trainer to tell Jacksonville Jaguars running back Greg Jones what was ahead for him after he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the Jaguars' third preseason game against Tampa Bay last August. Jones was all too familiar with the difficult road in store for him, as he suffered the same injury in his right knee as a junior at Florida State.
Jones recovered from the setback at Florida State to lead the Seminoles in rushing his senior season and was selected by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2004 draft. The injury last year involved less pain and swelling.
"It seems like this is one is coming along so easy," Jones said. "I have not had any trouble with it, but I'm still wondering if my results are going to be greater than last time. "
Jones waited several weeks for the swelling to subside and then headed to Birmingham, Ala. for surgery in September. He spent several months in Birmingham rehabbing with other NFL players who were going through similar injuries such as Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb and Indianapolis' Mike Doss. Other players came through for checkups on a weekly basis.
"Those guys play in the NFL so they know what I am going through," Jones said. "We are all going through the same thing at the same time. We might be in different stages, but we all run through the same things. We talk it out. We talk about where we are at and we talk about football."
Jones has reported to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium each day this offseason for rehab which includes weight lifting, cardio and time in the whirlpool. He has started running and doing some cutting drills, and plans to continue those drills as the other players report for offseason conditioning in late March.
"Some days I will be sitting in the training room doing rehab, wondering if this is all going to add up when the season comes," Jones said. "It's a long process, but I am starting to see the light. "
He admits there are times when his mind begins to wander.
"I do sit back and think about it," Jones said. "As a football player, you sit back and think, am I going to be back? Am I going to be where I was before? I can't do anything about it. All I can do is work hard. I can't cry over spilled milk. That is what my family and the training staff always tells me. I am just trying to move forward, work hard, rehab and when my time comes, step back in there and start practicing again. I want to be ready."
He plans on returning to Birmingham in the upcoming months for a checkup and maybe another week of rehab. Jones looks at the date of the injury being a positive as he heads into the 2007 season.
"I had my injury basically during training camp, which will be a whole year," Jones said. "I will stay here and hopefully ease my way in with the guys. When I get back to training camp, my goal right now is I want to start off where I left off. Get back into it. I know it's a process. I just have to get my body to follow my mind right now."
While he was not on the field, Jones didn't miss a play of the Jaguars 2006 season. He attended home games and rushed home from church on Sundays to watch the away games on television.
"I am a fan of football, first," Jones said. "I love to see guys doing good and running backs running the ball. I was rooting those guys on. I was just a fan. "
Jones will add another dimension to a running game that set a franchise record for rushing yards in 2006.
"This team has it all," Jones said. "We were 12-4 the year before last and we underachieved last year as an 8-8 team. We had a lot of injuries. In football, you just need to stay healthy and the ball needs to go your way. I know we can go to the playoffs, but I want to take it to the next level and go to the Super Bowl. I don't see why not. We went 12-4 and everybody is still here except for Jimmy (Smith). I think we can do it. We have the talent. We beat the Colts and you see what they did."