With no role on Bears, what’s next for 2022 3rd-round pick Velus Jones?

It’s looking increasingly untenable for the Bears to keep Velus Jones on the roster if he’s slipped this far on the depth chart.

SHARE With no role on Bears, what’s next for 2022 3rd-round pick Velus Jones?
A photo of Bears wide receiver Velus Jones during practice.

Jones was inactive for the Bears’ season opener vs. the Packers.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Wide receiver and returner Velus Jones’ future with the Bears looks bleaker than ever after the team made him inactive for the season opener against the Packers on Sunday. Jones was a third-round pick (No. 71 overall) just last year, but simply doesn’t have a job at this point.

He’s too far down the depth chart on offense to have a path to playing, and the Bears have replaced him as punt returner with veteran Trent Taylor and kick returner with rookie Tyler Scott.

“My journey’s been a wild journey... I’ve been through so much than nothing fazes me,” Jones told the Sun-Times on Friday when asked about his shaky standing on the team. “Just show the coaches that you’re willing to do anything for the team, and whatever role that is, do it the best you can. In the future, other big things may open up for you. You just never know.”

Given that it’ll almost certainly be untenable for the Bears to keep seven wide receivers on the roster, they won’t be able to hang on to Jones if he doesn’t have a role.

One of the chief concerns with Jones has been ball security, and when the team signed Taylor on Aug. 30, general manager Ryan Poles said, “when the ball gets punted you can go grab a snack and go to the bathroom and come back and you feel confident about it.”

Jones fumbled a kickoff in a preseason game the first time he touched a ball on an NFL field, then muffed punts at crucial times in losses to the Giants and Commanders. He was a healthy scratch twice in the middle of last season when the Bears were desperate for contributors at wide receiver. He also fumbled on a run play against the Eagles in Week 15.

This season started out just as badly, with Jones muffing a punt in the preseason opener.

He didn’t have a clear explanation Friday when asked why catching punts has been problematic for him.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an issue catching punts,” he said. “I mean, we’re human. I know what happened last season, but at practice, I can’t remember the last time I dropped a punt. Probably at the beginning of camp.

“The one that happened in the [preseason game] game, I definitely didn’t get to the ball, but I couldn’t actually see the ball, so that’s why I backed up off of it. Seeing it bounce so high just to get away from the ball. I’ve been catching them. Just continue to get better each and every day.

“It’s not no issue or whatever. Even the best returners and stuff, like Devin Hester or Tyreek Hill, they dropped punts. Control what you can control and just get better each and every day, simple as that.”

Jones was the third player Poles ever drafted, and the Bears’ wide receiver room looks dramatically different now than it did when Jones arrived. When they picked him, Darnell Mooney was their only proven receiver, but since then, they’ve traded for DJ Moore and Chase Claypool. Plus they drafted Scott in the fourth round this year, and he seems to have at least pulled even with Jones at receiver, if not ahead.

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