From one perspective, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones has little to prove.
The two-time Pro Bowler and 2017 All-Pro selection has had double-digit sacks in five of his seven NFL seasons. He had 17 in 2017, leading the league, with 13 last year. He also led the league in ’17 with 28 tackles for loss. He has exactly 100 starts to his name, with 77.0 career sacks.
But as mandatory mini-camp got underway for the Cardinals on Tuesday, Jones wasn’t just there because he had to be. He joined Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday and explained why he feels like camp is useful.
“For me personally, it’s my chance to impress the coaches,” he said. “We have a new coaching staff. It’s my chance to gel with the new teammates, and just to get the playbook down. We have a new playbook, new plays, new terminology. So I feel like this is my opportunity to get the edge on other teams.”
Jones will be playing under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but more closely working with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
“Coach Kliff, I’m pretty sure he’s seen highlights, but he doesn’t know what type of person I am,” Jones said. “He doesn’t know what type of player I am. He’s probably watched film, but I feel like I need to prove to him that I’m able to play in his defense.
“Year in and year out, I feel like I approach it with that same exact thing. My first year here, I was trying to impress Bruce Arians. My third year here, I was trying to impress Coach Wilks, and now I have a new coach. … I know what it feels like to get traded. I know what it feels like to get kicked off of a team. Not that I wasn’t good enough, but I know what it feels like for a coach to say, ‘Hey, you’re not on our roster.’ … I don’t ever want to feel that rejection ever again.”
When fellow linebacker Terrell Suggs arrived at mini-camp on Tuesday, he suggested that even he, a long-time veteran, had something to learn from Jones. “I ain’t never had 17 sacks in a season,” Suggs said.
But the bond already forming between the two can have benefit going both ways. Jones has had the desire to learn from Suggs, a 17-year veteran, even before the ASU alumnus signed with the Cardinals this offseason.
“Even before T-Sizzle was even on the team, he’s close to my brother Arthur, they played on the Ravens together,” Jones said. “I actually got his phone number from Arthur. Art’s like, ‘Stop being a fan, stop being a groupie.’ But I wanted [Suggs’] number because I wanted to know, how did he rush the passer so well for so long?
“So I’ve been picking his brain before he even got on the team. So now that he’s on the team, oh yeah. His locker’s right next to mine. So every second I get, every chance I get, I am picking his brain. And he’s been doing it for a while.”