Onrea Jones played his college football at Hampton, and was signed by the Houston Texans in 2007 as an undrafted free agent. In his career, he's bounced around from the Texans, Chargers, Packers, Colts, Redskins, and the Cardinals. Last preseason, he experienced his best numbers with the Cardinals, but was ultimately placed on the practice squad. This offseason he's been committed to the workouts and is expected to compete for the number 4 and 5 wide receiver spots on the team. Jones was kind enough to take some time out of his day to speak with me for Revenge of the Birds and of course, the fans.
Andrew: First, can you tell me a little bit about what you've been working on this offseason and what you're trying to improve on?
Onrea: I've mostly just been running. Get in better shape, a little bit more prepared then last year. I know I might have a bigger role this year. As far as the preseason, a little more time spent on the field. I worked out in Dallas with Mike Adams, cornerback, and we did a lot of sled work, did a little explosion. I think that's the biggest thing I've been working on. Hands, route running, one on ones with Mike Adams in Dallas. Just hands and all that. Just mostly getting in shape. That's the biggest thing I was concentrating on.
Andrew: What do you need to do to make the roster this year or how do you need to impress the coaching staff?
Onrea: Well I know one thing -- it's special teams -- to find the right spot on special teams. Mike Adams was big as a gunner last year on special teams. I kind of look up to him for that. Because he's been in the Super Bowl and he knows what he's doing. And that's one thing I've learned from Sean Morey also. I'm really concentrated on special teams, gunner, trying to get a spot on the kick off team, kick off return, any special teams I can get on, that's my ticket. Obviously you have to make plays as a wide receiver. I'm battling for a number 4 and 5 between me and Andre. Whoever gets that spot, he has to have a big role on special teams. As long as I can produce on special teams, I know I'll be alright.
Andrew: What do you feel is the best piece of advice that you have received since being in the NFL, from a player or a coach?
Onrea: Seize the moment. Go hard every chance you get because you never know if this is your last chance. Honestly, I'm praying to god that it's not. I've used all my practice squad years. If I don't go out and do what I need to do, this could be my last chance in the NFL. I don't go out on the field thinking that way, but it's always in the back of your head. Just seize the moment. Have fun. Go out there and do what you do. Everything's going to come out the way it should. If you go out there and put out 100% and you still don't make it, you have no regrets. If you go out there and half complete things, you are going to have those regrets. I don't want to do that. I don't want to leave the league thinking, "I wish I did this, I wish I did that."
Andrew: What are your thoughts on the changes throughout the roster this offseason?
Onrea: I feel like everything happens for a reason. When big changes like that happen in the offseason you know you have a good team. A lot of guys want to steal the guys you have from the previous team. That's what you see with the Cowboys and Patriots and all those other teams that have good players. Other teams want to get those players to enhance their team. I feel like we had a good team last season and the year before. I just feel like everything happens for a reason. It's giving us young guys a shot to show what we can do in the league now. I feel like we are prepared mentally, like Matt Leinart and those guys. They're ready to step up, and work hard in the offseason. Larry is taking over the leadership role. Steve Breaston has also taken that role when Anquan left. As for the DBs and LBs, you got some veterans that came in. The LBs in Porter, the DBs in Kerry Rhodes. Those guys and Adrian Wilson, they are taking over the DB's section. They are focusing on leadership. That leadership is what's going to carry us through.
Andrew: In particular, does it feel different without Anquan as part of the team?
Onrea: It feels a little bit[different] just for the fact that Anquan is a good guy -- another good guy we lost in the locker room. I feel like Early Doucet can take that role. He had a good offseason, good OTAs, minicamp, and all that. He's proven himself in the playoffs that he can also take that role. As far as on the field, I don't see a missed beat. I feel like he's[Early] taking over the steps that Anquan left off at. Anquan is a great player. I learned a lot from him. You have to move on. I feel like Early is ready. As far as playing ability, receiver wise, I don't think we are going to lose a step in the line up. But Anquan was great in the locker room.
Andrew: What have you seen from Matt Leinart so far and do you think he's ready to lead the Cardinals this season?
Onrea: Yeah. I've been working with him in unit 1s and 2s. He and Derek Anderson have been going head to head which is good. They end up pushing each other. Leinart is definitely ready. He's focused. He knows what he has to do. He's a great guy in the locker room and so with that we've developed that chemistry with him and all the receivers. We're going to continue with that in preseason and training camp and I know it's going to get a lot better then. He has a lot of upside to him. He hasn't had a lof of opportunities -- well he has when he first got in the league -- but since Kurt got in his opportunities have been shortened. He's got the opportunity, and he's taken full advantage of it. I honestly feel like he's ready to take that next step in the quarterback role.
Andrew: Are there any particular players that you've molded your game after or anyone that you look up to?
Onrea: I've been around so many good wide receivers it's crazy. I've been from team to team. I try to take a little bit from everybody. Andre Johnson, when I came in as a rookie with the Texans. San Diego with Vincent Jackson. Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. I was in Green Bay for a month or so. I learned a little bit from Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Of course being out here the longest with Larry and Anquan, and Anquan really showed us when I first got there, route running. Larry showed me adjustments on the ball and how to attack the ball, and work-ethics, he has great work-ethics. I just grabbed a little bit of everything from all of those guys. I can't single out any particularar guy I learned form. They all bring a different thing to the game. I just try to grab a little bit of everything.
Andrew: Have any cornerbacks impressed you that you have lined up across from?
Onrea: All of our corners are good. They all bring different techniques to the game. All of our corners are quick. They don't let you out of your break. Especially Rodgers-Cromartie, Mike Adams, and Greg Toler. Those guys are so fast in and out of their break, it makes you bring your A-game every time you line up across from them . The rest of the guys, they bring something different. I haven't lined up against all of them, well I have, I've lined up against all of the corners, but not enough to where I know their technique. I know there's no slouch out there. You can go out there and expect to play. You have to bring your A-game for every DB for the Cardinals. All of those guys are great.
Andrew: What is something non-football related that we may not know about you? Like other sports you play, hobbies, video games, etc.
Onrea: We stay on the video games -- college football, Madden, NBA 2k. Every Tuesday during the offseason we go bowling as a little group. We have our own little crew. We go bowling every Tuesday and invite several people out. Have fun and kick it. That's probably the biggest hobby -- bowling.
Andrew: Finally, what are your thoughts heading into camp and is there anything that you are looking forward to?
Onrea: I'm really anxious. I could say I'm in a different mindset then in the past camps. I'm more relaxed. I feel like I'm closer to a goal then I have been. [As far as what he's looking forward to]We are going to Tennessee, and I'm from Tennessee. There's going to be a lot of family members that I'm going to have to get into the game that have never actually got to see me play in college or high school. Going into the preseason to play the Titans, and also one of my college teammates plays for the Titans.
Andrew: And it's on Monday night.
Onrea: Yeah and it will be on Monday night. That's kind of a big deal for me. For family to see me play. And also we'll be out there practicing for an extra week after the game. So I get time to see my family. I'm ready for that.
I just want to thank Onrea for taking the time to speak with me and fill us in on his role with the team. Jones and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals head up to Flagstaff, AZ this weekend when they begin their 2010 training camp.