CHARLOTTE — The Saints knew they’d be shorthanded at running back Monday night.
Alvin Kamara was suspended. Rookie Kendre Miller was inactive with a hamstring. That left only Jamaal Williams healthy, so the Saints had to elevate Tony Jones Jr. from the practice squad, just to have a second back dressed for the game.
Then Williams went down with a hamstring injury midway through the second quarter, so the only true running back left was Jones, who’s been on and off NFL rosters for four seasons, bouncing from the Saints to the Seahawks to the Broncos back to the Saints in the past year alone.
New Orleans’ defense kept Carolina in check the whole night, but the Saints pulled away in the second half on the first two touchdowns of Jones’ career, an unlikely star in a 20-17 win over the Panthers, giving New Orleans its first 2-0 start in 10 years.
“I didn’t even know it was going to be just me and (Jamaal), to be honest,” Jones said after the game. “Coach had us out there running drills (in pregame) and I was like ‘Dang, there’s only two of us.’ You’ve got to fight through it. That’s all you’ve got to do.”
The Saints (2-0) struggled offensively for much of the night Monday, such that midway through the third quarter, they were mired in a 6-6 tie with the Panthers, who had No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young making his home debut.
New Orleans turned to Jones, and he converted on a third-and-2 at the Carolina 22, and then again on third-and-1 at the 7. On first-and-goal from the 2, he pushed forward, waiting to see the officials signal his first NFL touchdown.
“I already knew it was a tuddy before the play happened,” he said. “I don’t care what I’ve got to do, I’m scoring on this one. Four years in the league, it takes a while, but I’m here.”
It so happens that Tuesday is Jones’ wife Rebecca’s birthday, and while she stayed home because she’s expecting, he knew he had to give her that touchdown ball as a birthday memento. Fortunately for Jones, he got another chance, with the…
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Publish date : 2023-09-19 04:33:15
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