Jones had complained of soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder in early August even before the San Diego game, and both he and starting right tackle Sean Locklear (knee tendonitis) sat out the second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. The results were disastrous, as the Pack sacked Seattle quarterbacks seven times and embarrassed Tom Ashworth at left tackle in particular on the way to a 48-13 rout at Lambeau Field. For the Seahawks' final two preseason games, home wins against the Vikings and Raiders, Locklear manned the left side admirably.
Still, Jones has been the main man for so long, it's almost inconceivable to imagine anyone else at the far left of Seattle's line. The only game he's missed since early 2002 was the 2005 regular-season finale against the Packers, when the Seahawks had home field advantage wrapped up and rested many of their starters. "I'm just taking it real slow," Holmgren said on August 7th of Jones' practice and play status. "He's going to be one of our guys we are going to need to play all season and play well. So I'm probably being a little bit nice to him."
In 2006, Jones played all sixteen regular season games, and two playoff games, despite a shoulder injury and a sprained ankle. His sub-par year can be taken in context. At age 33, and in his 11th season, there are still a few good years left for this seven-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. Jones will most likely practice this week – his estimate seems to be Wednesday - just to get the rust off, as he'll be preparing for Gaines Adams, Tampa Bay's rookie defensive end, who was drafted fourth overall.
"You can't worry about that out there," Jones said, when asked if his shoulder will be on his mind during practice. "You go out there worrying about that, (and) you are not going to be focused. When Wednesday comes my main focus is to go out there and know the game plan and make sure I am ready when Sunday comes.
"I've got a couple days to get ready. The thing about it is it is still the same offense. I have been to practice; I have been to all the meetings and stuff. I've been doing stuff to get myself ready. I just have to go out there and go through some contact."
After a frustrating 2006, Jones is more than ready to cement Seattle's offense for another season. "You get that adrenaline rush. The thing about it, you can see how good this team can be and you want to be a part of that. Hopefully things go the way they are supposed to go and we are in the hunt in the end."
That journey will be far easier taken with number 71 in the lineup.