Velus Jones' 'short-term memory' was key to big return in Bears debut




 

Velus' 'short-term memory' was key to big return in Bears debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

SEATTLE - Velus Jones Jr. has been visualizing making plays in a Bears uniform since Chicago drafted him in the third round in April. It's how the rookie wide receiver spent his downtime during OTAs and minicamp. It's how he stayed sharp while missing a week of practice during training camp.

But he didn't visualize his preseason debut almost unfolding in disaster Thursday in Seattle.
Jones received the opening kickoff and promptly put the ball on the turf. But the 25-year-old was able to scoop it up, allowing the Bears to retain possession.

No harm, no foul.

Almost turning the ball over on your first-career NFL touch would shake the confidence of many rookies. Jones isn't most rookies.

Halfway through the first quarter, Jones went back to return a Michael Dickinson punt and showcased how he can be a difference-maker with the ball in his hands. Jones fielded the punt at the Bears' 19-yard line and turned on the afterburners. He beat two Seahawks to the corner and turned it up the left sideline. He weaved his way up the field before being tracked down at the Seahawks' 33-yard line for a gain of 48.

How was Jones able to shake off his opening fumble and make a big play like the one he had been envisioning for months? His superpower is in his ability to flush the bad immediately.

"I got a short-term memory when it comes to a bad play," Jones said after the Bears' 27-11 win at Lumen Field. "I know in this game of football, I wasn't the first to fumble and I won't be the last to fumble in this league. It's all about short memory. If you allow that to creep on you and stuff, it'll effect your next play. You never know your next play might be your biggest play. So, you have to have your short-term memory in this game. That's something I have, and I thank God for."

Jones didn't play in the Bears' preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs after missing several practices with a minor ailment. The Bears have been throwing a ton at Jones, asking him to learn all the receiver responsibilities in the offense so they can get him the ball in a variety of ways.

The speed, vision, and strength Jones displayed on his 48-yard return was the perfect example of what the Bears hope he can bring to an offense that lacks big-play threats outside of Darnell Mooney.

"He's a do-it-all guy. He's a physical guy, I think he weighs like 210 at receiver, and you don't see it from a guy his height," quarterback Justin Fields said after the game. "You usually see those weights at guys that are 6-3, 6-4. What he's able to do with the ball in his hands, he's almost like a running back playing receiver. He's a great weapon that we have on offense, and we're going to find ways to give him the ball this year, for sure."

Besides the 48-yards return, the big plays Jones has been dreaming up didn't come the 48-yard return. He caught just one pass for 4 yards, and his lone kickoff ended in the fumble that he was able to recover.

But that punt return was enough for Jones and the Bears to see Thursday as a positive first step in his NFL journey.

"It's a big confidence-booster," Jones said. "All day in the hotel, I was thinking about the plays I was going to make, just trying to visualize everything. It was a good feeling overall."

That challenge now is for Jones to keep stacking positive moments on top of one another so the game-changing moments he's been conjuring happen when the games count.

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