With Cody Grimm out, role change coming for Bucs' Sean Jones
Sean Jones says his comfort level in the Buccaneers defense has grown substantially now that he’s in his second season in Tampa Bay.
That’s a very good thing, because the Bucs are about to ask a lot more of their starting strong safety.
Coach Raheem Morris said the loss of starting free safety Cody Grimm to a season-ending knee injury will result in Jones often changing roles and playing free safety in certain scenarios. Grimm who was typically asked to be the eighth defender near the line of scrimmage in running situations. But backups Corey Lynch and Larry Asante are less suited for that role, meaning Jones will be called upon to fulfill it when needed.
“You’ll see him move around a little bit,” Morris said of Jones. “You’d like to see him as the guy down in the box making some plays. He’ll do some different things. I have a lot of confidence in Larry playing in the box. You saw him in the box playing free (safety) in the preseason. We’ve seen Corey go in the box a little bit in the preseason.
“But we’ll do a little more rotating and center the game plan more around (Jones). There’s no secret there. We did that with him last year when we lost Cody.”
Jones took on a similar role when Grimm was lost for the final five games of 2010 because of a broken leg.
Jones, 29, has drawn raves from coaches for his play since the preseason. He says remaining in the system for a second year after changing teams twice in two years has been a boost for him.
“This is really the first time in my career I can play the same defense two years in a row,” Jones said. “I’m definitely learning news stuff, different nuances each and every day, and it’s helping me out a lot. I can just continue to get better and better. Honestly speaking, I think I had some good years in the past, but I still feel my brightest days are in front of me.”
Jones has, perhaps, shown glimpses of what’s to come. He is the Bucs’ third-leading tackler, trailing only MLB Mason Foster and WLB Geno Hayes with 21 total tackles. He also has a sack, a fumble recovery and forced fumble.
He doesn’t have an interception and has just one since his arrival last season despite having 16 in his previous four seasons. But that’s not how the Bucs – or Jones – measures his value.
“You have a lot of guys who make a play here and there but they can’t tackle well or vice versa,” Jones said. “I try to pride myself in being the total safety. I just want to be a guy who can contribute and help us win.”