JACKSONVILLE – What went wrong a year ago went right this time.
That's part of Tim Jones' 2022 story – but the first-year receiver didn't become one of the Jaguars' best preseason stories by fate. This was about work, which paid off Tuesday with a big moment.
And one he very much earned.
"I was sitting there kind of antsy, hoping for the best," Jones said. "I can't control what coaches do. I let God do the rest."
Jones, who originally signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft, made the Jaguars' 53-man roster Tuesday. He made it as one of five receivers on the initial 53, which had to be set by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
And make no mistake:
This was a popular happening among his teammates, with Jones having earned the respect of veteran receivers as he earned his way onto the roster.
"I admire the heck out of that guy," Jaguars veteran receiver Christian Kirk said.
Jones, who played collegiately at Southern Mississippi, missed the 2021 preseason with a hamstring injury and was waived by the Jaguars on August 27 with an injury settlement. He was re-signed to the practice squad September 27.
That made this year's Hall of Fame Game his first NFL game. He caught one pass for four yards against the Las Vegas Raiders, but led the Jaguars in receiving each of the final three preseason games. He finished the preseason with 14 receptions for 217 yards, including three for 101 in the preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons.
"He took advantage of his opportunities," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "Young players … that has been my message since I got here. Everyone gets an opportunity and the ones that grasp it get chances in this league. He did a nice job on special teams for us, and he was a young receiver who really has grasped his opportunity to play.
"He showed us even the other day – some of the plays he made during the Atlanta game really stood out to us."
Kirk said Tuesday he had "total respect" for Jones.
"For him to go from there to where he ended up in Atlanta was unreal," Kirk said. "Our whole room was rooting for him every step of the way, from the second he started making plays in practice – and then the preseason as well.
“I’m super happy for him. He deserves a spot.” WR Christian Kirk
Marvin Jones Jr., in his 11th season the most veteran of the Jaguars' wide receivers, said he long has been impressed with the younger player.
"It's been amazing to see what he's done since the spring," Marvin Jones said. "He's been making crazy plays and he has been there and been available. He's been soaking up information. He missed out on a lot of football his rookie year. It's refreshing to see him come in here, take coaching and do what he's doing."
Tim Jones said he felt good about his roster chances after preseason but knew anything can happen as teams reduce rosters.
"The biggest thing I had this year versus last year was experience," he said. "Last year coming in as an undrafted free agent, I was the bottom of the bottom. I had to work my way into the system. I had a mindset this year of coming in to stay healthy. I felt a whole lot more confident."
Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke on trading wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to the Carolina Panthers Monday: "Well, since free agency when we signed [wide receivers] Zay Jones and Christian Kirk, we've been fielding calls quite a bit. Things picked up over the past week and it just came down to a situation where we felt it was a good situation for us as an organization and a good situation for Laviska. We certainly enjoyed him as a player in this organization and wish him nothing but the best." The Jaguars selected Shenault in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.