Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is trying very hard to impersonate a veteran. As a rookie middle linebacker, he's got an exceptionally hard job. Given the responsibilities he's been asked to shoulder, one might expect a pretty steep learning curve. But despite those expectations, Jones has played admirably through ten games. In fact, he's exceeded expectations.
Jones has arguably been one of the best rookies in the NFL this season. He's a huge upgrade for the Falcons, and it's fun watching him intercept balls and fly around the field. His memorable pick six against his home town New Orleans Saints in New Orleans was equal parts heartwarming and exciting. All that said, it's not been an easy road for Jones, and without veteran leadership, he wouldn't be thriving. Jones was featured on The Mothership's "Dan Quinn Show" this week. Here's what he had to say about the help he's received from veteran guys like Paul Worrilow:
"It's been tough ... a lot of older guys rely on me to get the right calls out, put us in the right position, and line us up correctly. I really just have to take a step backwards sometimes and go, 'Alright, relax, next play.' And I can say Paul Worrilow has been keeping me level headed, keeping me sane, for the most part. Keeping me confident and on track. A lot of the leaders ... always making sure I'm good, when I'm in the game, checking on me."
I'll admit, I'm an enormous homer, but I love the pay it forward attitude the veteran defensive players have adopted under Dan Quinn's tutelage. It's exciting to see guys like Jones, Keanu Neal, Brian Poole, and Vic Beasley come into their own. And hearing this from Jones tells me they aren't navigating this tough road alone.