Jones Working To Fill Redding’s Void

The Ravens’ defensive tackle is MMA training with his brother in Albuquerque.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 at 10:58 am | Categories: Ryan Mink

Art Jones was headed to Albuquerque, N.M. to help his brother, Jon “Bones” Jones, train for his next mixed martial arts championship fight when he got a text.

It was from Cory Redding, who had just signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Now Jones has a new motivation. He could be the Ravens’ next starting defensive end.

“Cory told me it’s my time to shine,” Jones told from Albuquerque.

“I know nothing is given to me, so I’m working my butt off. I definitely feel I’m ready for this opportunity. I feel, just like Cory said, there won’t be any letdown.”

The Ravens could sign a defensive end in free agency or draft one in April to fill Redding’s void. But Jones and second-year player Pernell McPhee are the logical replacements currently on the roster.

Jones started in Week 16 versus Cleveland last year when Redding missed the game due to injury. After being active for just two games during his rookie season, the former fifth-round pick played in 14 games. He finished with 20 tackles.

He said it was improvement, but he’s looking for more.

Last year, Jones entered training camp in phenomenal shape despite the lockout due to his MMA training with his brother. A former New York state champion wrestler, Jones sparred, did weight training and conditioning exercises in Greg Jackson’s gym.

He admitted he had a tough time keeping his weight down, however, especially when it got colder and it was more difficult to burn calories. Jones also bulked up a bit to play more three-technique, but could be back to more of a five-technique defensive end spot next season.

“I’m definitely going to try to lean up again, try to be stronger and come back in even better shape than last season,” Jones said.

“I’m more motivated than ever right now. My brother is training for his championship fight and I feel like I’m training for a championship season. I want to be a huge impact player this year.”

Jones is back on his intense training, pushing his body’s limits.

He’s running up massive sand dunes, swimming and mixing in more football cross training this year since Washington Redskins center Erik Cook is also in Albuquerque working out.

“Just finished swimming conditioning feeling like michael phelps!!! Definitely got better today,” Jones tweeted Tuesday evening. He’s been documenting his training on Twitter (@Artj97).

“It’s not just another workout,” Jones said. “I’m battling for something. Out here, one of the things coaches say is, ‘You have to suffer to be great.’ Right now, I feel like this is where I’m going to earn my place so I come in next season in great shape and stronger than ever.”

Jones could share the position with another former Ravens fifth-round pick, McPhee.

McPhee played in all 16 games as a rookie last year and surprised many by notching six sacks. He flashed a playmaking side, coming up with a game-saving sack against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 and a sack/strip against Houston.

The Ravens could opt to use Jones in early downs to set the edge and stuff the run, and bring in McPhee for more pass rush situations.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said after the season that he and Head Coach John Harbaugh won’t be afraid to let the young Ravens play. Thus, fans could see a lot of Jones and McPhee in 2012.

“Pernell is a great player; he has grown so much,” Jones said. “We rotate so much on our defense, so I could see it playing out that way. I just know there can’t be any letdown.”

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