October 23, 2019

Jones Racks Up Kick-Return Yards But Wants A TD

Christion Jones has had more than 100 yards of kick returns in nine consecutive games since making his Eskimos debut on Aug. 9th.

In only half a season, he has already become one of the busiest kickoff returners in a single season in Eskimos history with 827 kickoff return yards on 40 runbacks. He ranks sixth overall in the league and is averaging 20.68 yards per return with a longest return of 43 yards.

“It’s an honour to be able to do this with this team, coming here in mid-season and being able to be effective immediately,” Jones said. “It says a lot about this team. I’ve grinded and busted my butt for a while to be able to do certain things we’re doing here.

“It definitely makes me feel good that we’re accomplishing these type of things without even scoring a touchdown, so we’re definitely helping our offence in some form or fashion to attempt points or get points. That’s always important to me.”

Jones, 26, a third-year CFL veteran, could move into fifth place on the Eskimos’ single-season charts with eight more kickoff returns and 130 kickoff return yards during the final two games of the regular season – a home-and-home series against his former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, that starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I thank Coach (Jason) Maas and Brock (Sunderland, the Eskimos General Manager and Vice President of Football Operations) for thinking about me in mid-season to be able to get back on the field,” said Jones, who was acquired in a rare CFL trade for veteran receiver Kenny Stafford.

Jones had played the first three games of the season with the Roughriders before missing a game with an injury. He never played for Saskatchewan again.

“They’ve got top-notch playmakers over there in Sask, so things didn’t work out for me to be back on the field when it was time for me to be back on the field,” Jones said. “The way they saw it happening was me being traded. … I’m just happy to be back on the field playing and doing what I love to do.”

Jones doesn’t have any hard feelings about the Roughriders or Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Craig Dickenson.

“There’s nothing but respect I have for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Coach Dickie and the coaching staff and the players on that team,” he said. “They didn’t treat me bad or wrong. It was more of a mutual agreement.

“I thank Edmonton and Sask for all that I’ve done there and accomplished and all the things that we’re getting ready to accomplish here in Edmonton. I’ve had a great journey this year being on two great teams.”

Besides his kickoff-return numbers, Jones has also returned 44 punts for 421 yards with the Eskimos for an average return of 9.6 yards. His longest runback that counted is 41 yards in the last game against the BC Lions.

Including his punt-return numbers with Saskatchewan, Jones sits third in the CFL with 612 yards on 64 returns.

He has also returned four missed field goals for 164 yards, including a 100-yard runback against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 20th at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Unfortunately, he was eventually tackled at the Ticats’ 15-yard line on the play.

His single-game high with the Eskimos this season is 231 kick-return yards.

“To be quite honest with you, the camaraderie and the chemistry that we’ve built since Day 1 playing against Ottawa in my first game here has been something to build on,” Jones said. “I think we’ve built a stable-enough house to continue to get better and to be able to accomplish something that we still haven’t accomplished like every other team (in the league this season) and that’s a return for a touchdown. That’s something we still can accomplish and are able to accomplish. Hopefully, we get that done playing Sask.”

Jones actually had a 130 punt-return yards, including a 92-yard punt return touchdown against the Calgary Stampeders in the Labour Day Classic, but they were wiped out by two Edmonton holding penalties.

Asked how many returns he’s been a block or two away from breaking all the way, Jones simply said: “Too many to count on my hand, but I’ve had quite a few.”

Jones had three punt-return touchdowns with Saskatchewan in 20 games over the 2017 and ’18 seasons.