Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Storm

Tampa Bay Storm's Mark Jones settles in at different position

TAMPA — Mark Jones met current Storm president Derrick Brooks when the two played for the Buccaneers. The pair remained friends, even after Jones moved on to several other NFL stops.

Now, Brooks is Jones' boss.

"It's funny how it all worked out," Jones said.

Jones will make his second career start in the defensive backfield tonight when the visiting Storm (5-3) takes on South Division rival Georgia (4-4) at 7 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

"Mark's got great athleticism," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "His versatility is an asset for sure."

If Jones' name sounds familiar to Bucs fans but his position looks strange, that's because the 31-year-old played receiver and returned kicks in the NFL. Jones handled 83 punts for the Bucs from 2005-07.

"I've never been one of those 'Look at me' type players," Jones said. "So when they asked me to play some defensive back here, I had no problem with it."

Playing for the Storm first piqued Jones' interest while he and Brooks were playing golf.

"I was in game shape already and we started talking," said Jones, who works as a personal trainer and last played in the NFL in 2009. "He wanted me to come play for him and it went from there."

Jones played some defensive back, in addition to receiver, in high school and he was named USA Today's Pennsylvania player of the year. He also played both ways in college for Tennessee before being drafted by the Bucs in the seventh round in 2004 (he was waived prior to that season).

"I like to play both, but I'd say I'm better at whichever I'm primarily working on at the time," Jones said. "It's easy to let your hands or footwork slide when you're not constantly working on them and playing DB (instead)."

Due to injuries in the Storm's defensive backfield, Jones got his first start last week in a 55-31 win against Orlando. He had four tackles, recovered a fumble, swatted away a pass and had one catch for 10 yards. But even more important than his play on the field are his actions off it, Ewart said.

"The No. 1 thing with Mark is he is an excellent locker room guy," Ewart said. "He carries himself like a guy who has been to the next level and is great for all the young guys we have on this team."