The Jacksonville Jaguars' backfield suffered a setback Monday when an MRI exam revealed that versatile third-year veteran Greg Jones has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and is lost for the season.
The injury to Jones, a youngster poised for an expanded role in 2006, had originally been diagnosed as a sprained medial collateral ligament after he hurt his knee in Saturday's preseason game. While that would have kept Jones off the field for a while, there was some hope he would be able to return in time for the Sept. 10 season opener. A subsequent MRI, however, showed more damage than anticipated.
"He's my kind of guy ... and we'll miss him," coach Jack Del Rio said in announcing the injury.
Jones, 25, was important to the Jaguars because of his ability to play fullback and also to line up at tailback in one-back sets. The latter, in fact, was arguably his best position. Although veteran Fred Taylor retained his starting tailback job in camp, Jones was projected as the top backup, and a player being counted on to assume a more ambitious workload in 2006.
It was believed that Jones would take some carries away from Taylor this season.
The former Florida State standout, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in his junior season with the Seminoles, is a tough inside runner but blessed with rare quickness for a big back. In camp, Jones exhibited the kind of speed he had flashed in college before the surgery to his right knee. His loss weakens the Jaguars, who ranked 10th in rushing offense in 2005 but felt they could improve beyond that in 2006, on several fronts.
A second-round choice in the 2004 draft, Jones rushed for 51 yards on 14 carries in the preseason. In his first two years in the league, he carried 213 times for 737 yards and seven touchdowns and also posted 13 receptions for 78 yards. Jones appeared in 30 games and started 16 of them.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.