There is always that one underdog who seems to get stronger as the odds to success shrink. One athlete who seems to be fueled by disbelief and disrespect, a player whose path to a professional sports career is overgrown with obstacles that would prevent a lesser man from realizing his dream.
The LA Rams have a knack for finding those special types of athletes and continue to feed their pipeline of developing NFL-caliber players to round out their roster. Whether by necessity or just their special super-power, the personnel department seems to find the players that have fallen off the radar of other NFL teams for one reason or another.
One such player is their 2020 undrafted free agent signed running back Xavier Jones. Despite arriving after the 2020 NFL Draft, he scraped and clawed his way onto the Rams 53-man roster. Once there, he made it no further. A redshirted rookie who was given a golden opportunity to sit, observe, learn, and develop.
Recess is over
Okay. Recess is over for this LA Rams running back. Xavier Jones has something to say, and he will only say it on the football field. While many overlook the potential of this young man, we don’t. In fact, we’ve been calling for his breakout season for over a year. Will this be the dawn of Xavier Jones’s day?
Pressure… You Really Got To Feel Me To Understand❗️Still Not Respected… pic.twitter.com/QPLzXzHcyZ
— Xavier Jones (@The_XavierJones) January 31, 2020
He’s a young man who hurdles practically every bar he comes across. And yet, you might think that the top scorer in all of NCAA football in 2019 might not need to overcome so many obstacles. Despite averaging nearly 12 points per game, he did not receive an invitation to the 2020 NFL scouting combine.
He didn’t hear his name called out during the 2020 NFL Draft. And thanks to the arrival of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, he has no OTAs, no preseason games, and a mere crash course training camp to make a positive impression upon the Rams coaching staff.
Rookie running back reset
And he did. In fact, he impressed All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald in that short span of time. That was quite a feat.
I asked Rams DT Aaron Donald which players have stood out to him as far as making plays during the two scrimmages, and he said ILB Micah Kiser and RB Xavier Jones.
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 29, 2020
And so, the one-time rookie running back is on reset. He has an entirely new cast of competition to face in 2021. He must fend off the addition of new rookie running back Jake Funk. He must re-establish himself to the good graces of the LA Rams running back coaches once more. Let’s be real. The Rams will likely only carry four running backs this year (versus the five carried in 2020), so the roster is now in a round of musical chairs. Two roster spots for Xavier Jones, Jake Funk, and Raymond Calais.
Darrell Henderson is the veteran whose style at running back mimics that of Funk and Calais, and that could prove to be an advantage for Jones. But Jones is not banking on any advantages. To be honest, he probably shouldn’t. He needs to approach this offseason with a chip on his shoulder, viewing his standing as all uphill. That’s how he operates, that’s how he gets energized.
Look for Rams running back Xavier Jones to show up big in preseason games. If he can do that, he will land a spot among the team’s rushing rotation. But that won’t come easy. Xavier Jones wouldn’t have it any other way.