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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #32 Ronald Jones

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 32.

RB Ronald Jones II
Born: 3rd August 1997 (25) - Fort Stewart, Georgia
College: USC Trojans
Draft: 2018, Round 2, Pick 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2022 Stats:
Snaps: 40
Rush Attempts: 17
Rush Yards: 70
Receptions: 1
Receiving Yards: 22
Drops: 0
Touchdowns: 1
Penalties: 0

Ronald Jones was a highly sought-after running back recruit coming out of high school. He ultimately choose USC to play and enrolled in 2015 where he quickly won a backup role in his freshman year. By the end of his first season he impressed and had recorded 153 carries for 987 yards and eight touchdowns. As a freshman he had already delivered a team-leading performance in both rush yards and rushing touchdowns.

The next year, Jones was on absolute fire. He again led the team in rush yards (1,082) and scored the most combined touchdowns (13), out-scoring teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster. His work in the backfield and rushing touchdown helped USC secure victory in that years Rose Bowl against Penn State.

His junior year saw no let-up as Jones continued to surge and look even better. Jones recorded 261 carries for 1,550 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Jones finished eighth in the nation in rush yards and sixth in the nation in rushing touchdowns. He would the declare for the draft and get selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Cowboys Outlook:
Jones was extremely young leaving college to play professional football. That along with him moving to the entire other side of the country where he would be isolated from anyone he knew had a profound effect. He would fail to make a single start during his rookie season and wouldn’t even get on the field until Week 4 where he recorded 10 carries for 29 yards. His rookie season ended slow and he finished the year with only 23 attempts for 44 yards.

In 2019, things ramped up for Jones as a rotational running back until he started to play as the team’s starting tailback halfway though the year. Jones finished his second professional season with 172 carries for 724 yards and six touchdowns.

The next year would be what is considered so far his career year. The Buccaneers began the season with Jones as their starting running back and things looked positive for him as he started to play more efficiently and at his potential. Jones finished the 2020 season as the Buccaneers’ leading rusher with 192 carries for 978 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with 28 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown in 14 games and 13 starts.

In 2021, Jones saw his struggles return as he lost his starting role to Leonard Fournette. Jones finished the 2021 season with 101 carries for 428 yards and four touchdowns. He missed the playoff games due to an ankle injury that would also decide his fate with the Buccaneers.

Jones signed with the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason, but by the time the season started Jones became both frustrated and vocal about being stuck at the bottom of the depth chart. He requested a trade which he never got and played the year finishing with 17 carries for 70 yards. He did earn a Super Bowl ring having only played six games for the Chiefs but failed to get a snap during the playoffs.

During the 2023 offseason, before the draft, he returned to Texas where he once played high school football, signing with the Cowboys. He looks to solidify himself as the RB2 on the team behind Tony Pollard during the off-season, and has done some work while at Oxnard.

Jones is a traditional slasher with the wiggle and explosiveness to elude open-field tacklers and then break for chunks of yards. He’s shown he can remain focused and under control with the ball in his hands while defenders come at him. He has very sudden turn-and-go agility skills as he plants his feet and makes some crazy cuts. Jones is also good at breaking tackles and falling forward after the tackle to gain extra yards, his issue has always been absorbing blows.

He’s been lean playing even in college and in the NFL that’s transitioned into teams wanting to use him sparingly to avoid injury. Tied with that, his style of play sees him wanting to engage in contact far too often as opposed to wanting cut around it, this has always made Jones a concern for coaches. He has the tools to be successful in Dallas, and with him playing behind Pollard can only help his rep count to keep him balanced. The issue will be if he can remain patient and then play with the right type of pace and rhythm the team want him to.

With a two-game suspension now looming over Jones and missing time with an injury, the questions remain if he can make the final cut. But it’s where the team value him beyond the suspension, or if they feel they should keep him on the roster just in case the other rotation backs struggle during the first two games.

Projected 2023 Stats:
Snaps: 170
Rush Attempts: 111
Rush Yards: 444
Receptions: 31
Receiving Yards: 231
Touchdowns: 5

The Big Question:
Can Ronald Jones make the roster for Dallas even with the suspension? Answer in the comments.

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