– Georgia LB/pass rusher extraordinaire Jarvis Jones might be one of the most talented players in the draft, perhaps even the most talented. But for reasons out of his control, his stock is all over the place.
– Jones has spinal stenosis, a condition that isn’t necessarily career threatening but is viewed in different ways by different teams. In fact, Rams LB coach Frank Bush’s career ended from a similar condition but medicine has advanced quite a bit since then.
– Jones answered questions about his condition and how he’s handling the relentless medical queries.
I’m healthy right now.
(said he won’t be participating in any of the drills at the combine) our main focus was the come here and visit with all the doctors so all the doctors can see me. Take all the tests I can that they needed me to take so that they can see that I’m healthy.
(spinal stenosis) I have a slight narrowing in my spine between the C4 and C5 (vertabaes). Like pretty much everybody – probably some of y’all have spinal stenosis and don’t know it – I have it. But most of the doctors checked me out and feel that I’m fine. I don’t have any contusion or anything like that in it. I only had one incident. A stinger at USC in ’09, my freshman year. I never had any symptoms after that. I played 2 years of SEC football, red-shirted, practiced every day, never had any symptoms. So I feel that I’m healthy. The doctors felt that I was healthy today. So I’m excited.
(medical exam by docs at combine)
everybody saw me. Everybody pulled at me and yanked on e today. They understand where it is. We haven’t gotten any final word or anything but I feel real good about today.
(any concern about playing with it) Not at all. Anybody who steps on that field has a chance of getting hurt. If you think about it like that, nobody would ever play football. For me, I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity. I love this game. I’m passionate about it. I know that I’ve got to be careful about my technique and how I play this game. Therefore, I do the extra stuff to protect my neck, to protect my shoulders. I saw a lot of doctors today and they weren’t too concerned about what they saw. They thought I was fine. I don’t know how people, how the coaches feel about taking me, but I think I’m fine. I heard a lot of good news today. So I’m excited.
(being diagnosed with spinal stenosis in ’09 when he was a freshman at USC) I really didn’t know what it was. I was a freshman. They were just telling me I can’t play football no more. Eight games out of high school it was deveastating. It was kind of heartbreaking for me, being 2,000 miles from home. I went to USC to play football, and for them to tell me I couldn’t, I was a bit lost.
(how did you then end up playing at Georgia) I got a couple of spine specialists to clear me. Went to UGA. Took a visit there. Took some medical tests there. Spent whole day with coach Richt and the medical staff taking tests all day. Passed every one of my tests. They sent down my medical information to other spine specialists. They thought I was fine. My whole redshirt year, I did the rehab stuff to protect myself. Building up my neck. Building up my shoulders. Building up my technique on the field. Keeping my head up when I hit. I did a great job of it.
(are nfl teams more afraid of your condition shortening your career rather than your ability to play with or hurting yourself permanently?) I’m going to continue to do what I can to protect myself. I’ve got to be in the weight room more, to keep building up my neck, keep building up my shoulders. There are some great doctors out there. They know if I shouldn’t be playing this game, I should’ve stopped a long time ago. Because my MRIs, from the day it happened to today, it hasn’t gotten any worse. It still looks the same. So that’s good.
(your response when teams ask you what you can bring to their team) I feel like I’m an impact player. I make plays. I love the game of football. I’m a great leader. Not so much a vocal leader, but showing. I think I bring versatility to the team. I can play SAM linebacker. I can play WILL linebacker. I can play 4-3. I can play a 3-4. I’m just gonna get after you. I’m gonna get after the QB every play.
(comfort level with 4-3) I am comfortable in 4-3. I love player OLB in the 4-3. I thought coach (Todd) Grantham (UGA defensive coordinator) did a great job of using me in college. Having me pass rush 95 percent of the time. I got real comfortable in the 2 years I played in it.
(Sheldon richardson’s comments about Georgia playing old-man football) That was an exciting game for us. Him saying that, coach Richt and the coaching staff brought it back to us because we really didn’t hear it. We took it as an insult and we went out there and played. It was an exciting game. We finished strong in that game. Since we’ve been here, the man (Richardson) is amazing. I like him. He’s got a great sense of humor. Glad he got a chance to come here and show his talent.
(where do you think you’ll get taken) I don’t know. Hopefully I’ll go No. 1.
(what makes you such a good pass rusher) I’m a student of the game. I prepare well. I know what’s going on. I recognize formations. I find tendencies. I look at the small things that help me to play fast, play 100 percent the whole game and be relentless and just get after the ball. Letting the game come to me. Once you understand formations and recognize personnel, it allows you to play faster.
(more on his condition and what effect it will have on where he gets drafted, et al) there a lot of things I just can’t control. I’m just gonna stay prayed up about it. I think I have a great supporting cast from my family and my friends. We’re doing a great job right now of getting to the doctors and asking the right questions and doing everything they want me to do. I just gotta sit and wait now.
(what would you be doing if nobody had cleared you in ’09) Just getting my degree. Basically, I want to be a coach. I want to be a mentor. I think I have a great story. Youth look up to me daily. I think I can be a change in their lives. I think I can help people.
(anybody in your family concerned about playing with condition) No, not at all. If the doctors told me I couldn’t play today, I think I’ve had a great run and I would just take it for what it’s worth. It would hurt me (not to play). I love this game. I’m passionate about this game. But I’d rather walk and enjoy myself and my family then not be able to walk away from this game.
(how long was your medical exam today) I’ve been here since 8 this morning (It’s now 5). So, you get the picture. I got MRIs. Had different teams pulling on me, jerking on me, asking me questions. Just going through that all day long.
(when do you expect to get the results)
I really don’t know. Hopefully before I leave here or sometime this week.
(what would you tell people about your story and what they can learn from it?)
It’s amazing just coming from where I’ve come from. From not being able to play (in ’09) to having the opportunity to play (in nfl) and maximize my ability. I had a great season at Georgia. I love every minute of it. I loved my teammates, the fans there. One of my favorite quotes is, it’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive. No matter where you’ve come from or no matter what you’re going through, if you stay focused and stay confident, you can always be what you want to be.
– It’s unknown how the Rams feel about Jones but there is a chance his condition could cause him to slide. Most believe he’s a fit more in a 3-4 defense because of his ability to rush the passer. But what if he could play SLB? Wouldn’t he be an intriguing option for the Rams in that spot? Imagine a defense with pass rushers like Robert Quinn and Chris Long with a guy like Jones on the edge? That would have to be awfully tempting for the Rams, depending on how they view his medical status.
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