ASHBURN, Va. — Running back Matt Jones is listed as questionable but expects to play for the Washington Redskins in their season opener Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones is almost fully healed after separating his left shoulder Aug. 19 and is confident he’ll be 100 percent by game time. He has been a full participant in practice but was considered questionable because the NFL removed the “probable” distinction beginning this season.
“I’m going to play,” Jones said Friday. “I don’t feel like it’s like see how I hold up or (anything) like that. Just get hit, OK, I’m going to get back up.”
Washington will rotate Jones, rookie Robert Kelley and third-down back Chris Thompson, but the second-year pro will shoulder the majority of the load. As Jones discussed his teammates getting plenty of carries, too, Kelley shook his head and pointed at him.
Offensive coordinator Sean McVay said the team hopes Jones stays healthy through the game but has a plan to split the work. Jones will start, and that’ll be the next test for him to tolerate the pain of getting hit.
“You like his toughness and I think he can play through a little soreness, which a lot of running backs do in the National Football League,” coach Jay Gruden said. “It’s just a way of life. When you sign up to play running back in the National Football League, you’re going to be a little sore, and he will be throughout the season and he’s tough enough to deal with it.”
Jones conceded missing the final two preseason games to get his shoulder ready for when it matters. But after his rookie season ended with a hip injury, the 23-year-old didn’t want to miss more games, especially now that he has replaced Alfred Morris as the feature back.
So the Florida product took some contact at practice during the week and is mentally and physically ready for even more from the Steelers.
“It’s just football,” Jones said. “I’m going to just run my route, however I get it I just get it, and take it as far as like that. If I do feel it, I’ve just got to fight through it.”
The Redskins have only three running backs on the roster, so they seemed confident that Jones won’t be bothered by the sore shoulder in the coming weeks. But Kelley — undrafted out of Tulane — stood out so much during training camp and the preseason that he’s not a bad fallback plan in case Jones is hurt.
AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.