When Jarron Jones went down during fall camp, it looked like the senior nose guard’s season was over. But during his Tuesday press conference, head coach Brian Kelly revealed that Jones’ rehabilitation has him on track to potentially play during the postseason. That’d be a huge lift to an Irish defensive front that was supposed to be built around Jones and fellow senior Sheldon Day.
Kelly estimated that Jones was four to six weeks away from playing football, putting him on schedule to be available to practice with the Irish as they prepare for postseason play—whether that be a playoff game or bowl appearance. Right now, the senior is working to strengthen the area around his injured knee, focusing on rebuilding quad and hamstring muscles.
In place of Jones, Notre Dame has used sophomore Daniel Cage and freshman Jerry Tillery. The duo has combined to make 26 tackles, five TFLs, and a sack. Last season, Jones had 40 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks and was expected to be one of the Irish’s standouts in 2015. Jones sat out as a freshman, preserving his eligibility for 2016. That won’t be impacted if he takes the field this season.
Last week, Kelly quipped that he put Torii Hunter into the nickel role because he couldn’t make a trade. This week, Jones feels like a potential trade deadline move that could bolster a defense that could use a potential impact player up front.