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Bears fifth-round offensive tackle Braxton Jones went from developmental prospect to Week 1 starter in the course of one offseason.
Jones worked his way up to a starter at left tackle during the final week of OTAs, and he’s remained there ever since. This summer, Jones has showed he can hold his own, whether that’s going against Robert Quinn in practice or Kansas City’s Frank Clark in the preseason.
General manager Ryan Poles has been impressed with how quickly Jones has developed since joining Chicago.
“We thought he definitely had starter potential and he could develop,” Poles said, via ChicagoBears.com. “[But] I’ve been blown away by how fast he has developed. There’s a lot of credit for our coaches and [offensive line coach] Chris Morgan; they’ve done an excellent job.
“He continues to kind of check the boxes. You go from OTAs and [you’re] like, ‘man, the guy looks pretty good.’ All right, but we’ve got to go to training camp, we’ve got to put pads on. We put pads on and he still does pretty good. All right, let’s see when the lights go on and we go to preseason, is he going to do it then? Because the longer you do this, and you’ve all seen, you see these spikes and then [wonder], ‘where did he go?’
“[But] he just continues to climb and get better and better and better. And then now that next phase is Week 1, he’s going to see a ‘big dog.'”
Protecting quarterback Justin Fields will be paramount to the success of this Bears offense this season, and Jones will face a challenge in his first NFL start.
That would be the one and only Nick Bosa, who’s coming of a season where he totaled 15.5 sacks, 21 tackles-for-loss and forced four fumbles.
“I told [Jones], too, there’s going to be ups and downs, and I think part of being a really good player is the short memory, like, ‘how can you overcome some of those bad plays?'” Poles said.
“That’s going to be the next step for him, and just seeing those top rushers in this league, it’s no joke. A lot of guys struggle with them, but can you battle, can you fight and have that short memory when things go bad, and do you have the toughness to stick in there?
“I’m excited for him, and I’m excited for what he’s become. He has not given that spot up and he just keeps fighting and fighting and fighting. I’m proud of that kid.”
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