Center Jones continues to set bar for toughness on offensive line

Friday, October 22, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 43
By Terry McCormick

The Titans offensive line has had its share of problems this year, and it didn’t get any better when Taylor Lewan was carted off the field Monday night with an apparent concussion.

Pass protection has been an issue since the season opener. Even the run game has struggled at times. And injuries have been a calling card for this group all year.

But for the player who sets the tone for the line – center Ben Jones – there is never a question of toughness.

“I want to be out there,’’ Jones says. “I enjoy playing football. I love being able to come out here and practice. I don’t want to be in there (in the training room) banged up.

“That comes with the sport. If I can be out here, then I want to be out here.”

Jones has had to exit a few times this season but has returned to finish most games. His quarterback, Ryan Tannehill appreciates his toughness.

“Ben is about as tough as they come.” Tannehill says. “You see him battling through constantly, well not constantly, but it feels like every game or every couple games there is an instance where he gets rolled up on, twists an ankle, MCL, I don’t know I am just making stuff up, but something goes wrong and he has an injury.

“Then you see him in the huddle, he is gritting. ‘Ben, are you OK? Do you need to go down?’ And he is, ‘No, I am good.’ He has got this face on like he just bit into the world’s sourest lime or lemon, but he is gutting it out.

“The guys in the huddle, they see that. We realize how tough he is and thankful we have a guy that wants to battle it out out there with us and really set the tone up front.”

Jones’ toughness was developed at an early age on a farm in Georgia. He lost his father when he was a child and learned to become mentally and physical tough.

“I grew up on a farm. It wasn’t football and sports (where I got hurt). I hit a barbed wire fence on a bicycle and cut my throat open really bad,” Jones recalls. “Two weeks later, I got hit with a baseball bat and had to have brain surgery.

“I remember the doctor was worried about the big cut on my neck and said, ‘What is going on with this kid?’ I had a broken leg for a year and a-half in high school, and thought it was shin splints, and I had to get my tibia taken out. So I’ve had some stuff. But I just wanted to play.

“If I wasn’t playing sports in high school, I was on the farm working. So I wanted to play.”