GREEN BAY – After skipping voluntary OTAs, Josh Jones was present for Tuesday’s first mandatory minicamp practice, but the third-year safety was unable to participate due to a hamstring injury.
Media reports last month indicated the former second-round draft pick was skipping voluntary workouts due to unhappiness with his role on the Packers’ defense, and that he asked General Manager Brian Gutekunst to be traded.
Neither Gutekunst nor Jones discussed the reported meeting directly. Jones called it a “closed-door conversation,” and Gutekunst indicated there’s been ongoing communication with Jones’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
“I think it’s more about what our team desire is, and right now we’re kind of working through that,” Gutekunst said when asked if he’d trade Jones. “But he’s a very talented player. He’s shown that at times. We’ll go along and see where it goes.”
Jones hurt his hamstring a couple of weeks ago working with a personal trainer in Florida. While away, he said he focused on fatherhood, having added a second child to the family just as the 2018 season wrapped up.
Last year didn’t go as Jones had hoped. He missed the first three games with an ankle injury and then started just one game until the final month of the season. He then started the final four contests of the year.
But overall, the workload was less than his rookie season, when he started six of the final nine games and seven total. He had an interception, two sacks and seven passes defensed in 2017 but added just one sack and two passes defensed last year, shifting between safety and a hybrid linebacker role in the dime defense for coordinator Mike Pettine.
Jones said he understood the moves Gutekunst made at safety in the offseason to help the defense because the unit as a whole had “underperformed.” The Packers signed free agent Adrian Amos and traded up to draft Darnell Savage in the first round.
But he didn’t go into any other details about his feelings or his place on the team, except to say his hamstring will be healthy by training camp. Pettine noted he sees no issues with Jones’ knowledge of the scheme, in terms of the time he missed this spring.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur said there’s been dialogue with Jones throughout the offseason and he’d like to see what he might bring to the defense, but where things go from here remains uncertain.
“I think we're on the same page in terms of what the expectations are and where he fits with us,” LaFleur said after Tuesday’s practice. “We certainly want him a part of what we're doing moving forward.
“I think he's a versatile guy. He can fill a lot of roles, especially in Pettine's defense where we're going to play multiple defensive backs and put these guys all over the place. He's a talented young player that I think can help us.”