Jones, the team's third-round draft choice in 2010, never got to suit up after crashing his Range Rover in New Orleans on June 25, the day after the rookies' offseason conditioning program concluded. His long road back to football included a stop yesterday at the Timex Performance Center, where he watched a training camp practice, was examined by team doctors and stated emphatically he expects to play in camp in 2012.
"I'm thinking training camp next summer I should be a full participant," Jones said. "I don't see that my body will have any restrictions from being a full time NFL player."
"My number one goal (is to play football). I still see myself as a New York Giants football player. I'm out here. It's nothing but motivation seeing all these guys out here running around, the same guys that I've been playing with. So, I definitely see myself as a football player."
Jones estimates he is "70 percent" athletically. A muscular 6-2, Jones said he is 10 pounds over his listed playing weight of 221, but expects to easily shed them in the next year. He has been working out hard near his Louisiana home.
"I've been doing everything, full body weights, squats," Jones said. "I put up 250 pounds on my back already. I just started doing some explosive 10-yard sprints. It's going good. Just time will tell. As far as my leg will take me, I'm going to keep pushing."
Jones and the Giants were both inspired by his practice visit. After the workout, Coach Tom Coughlin brought him into the team circle where his teammates, many of whom had never met Jones, gave him an ovation.
"It's a great feeling," Jones said. "I tried to hold in the tears, I did pretty well at that. It was just the greatest feeling seeing those guys, and just build new relationships with them and they congratulated me."
"It was really nice to see him," Coughlin said. "I looked over and saw this big guy over there and I said that son of a gun looks like Chad. He looks great and sounds good. He is saying that he is about 70% and that he has some sense or motion in some of those key areas. It would be a great, great thing for this kid to come back and play. Everybody feels bad for him but yet you can't miss the attitude that he has because he has had it since day one when he was laying in The Hospital for Special Surgery. His attitude was tremendous and he was going to come back."
It will be quite a remarkable story if he does, because in the immediate aftermath of the accident, doubt existed whether Jones would ever walk again, much less play football. He suffered multiple fractures to his left leg and arteries and nerves were exposed. Jones lost a lot of blood and doctors reportedly considered amputating his foot. He underwent seven hours of surgery soon after the crash.
Despite the seriousness of his injuries, Jones – who spent his rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list – was immediately determined to resume his athletic career. Some thought he might choose baseball, which he also played at LSU and is less physically demanding than football. But Jones' goal is to play for the Giants.
"I've been working out and training as a football player and I still see myself as a football player," he said. "I came in as a football player with football only on my mind and that's what it is still to this day. Until otherwise happens, I still eat, sleep and breathe football."
At LSU, Jones played in 40 games with 19 starts – 13 at free safety and six as the nickel back. He totaled 157 tackles (84 solo) with 7.5 stops for losses of 45 yards and intercepted five passes for 81 yards in returns. As a senior in 2009 he started all 13 games and was a second-team All-SEC selection.
The Giants tabbed Jones with the 76th overall selection of the draft and thought he could be a fixture in their secondary for many years. Their hopes and Jones' have been deferred, but not derailed, because Jones believes he will return to the field as the same player that so impressed the Giants last year.
"I definitely believe and feel that I can," Jones said. "I think I'm that type of player. I have that tenacity to come back and overcome adversity. I definitely see myself as being able to come back full strength like I came in."
The team's medical staff, including team physical Russell Warren, apparently agrees.
"(Dr. Warren) said that everything is looking good," Jones said. "He's mostly looking at the range of motion in my ankle. He actually said that I was looking better than he actually thought I was. That was Dr. Warren that said that. So, everything is looking good."
Although he lives in Louisiana, Jones closely follows the Giants.
"I definitely watch the games," Jones said. "I talk to the players often. Jason Pierre-Paul, that was my roommate. I guess that's my main guy who I came in with. I talk to him all the time. It's just hard to sit there on the couch watching the game knowing that you were just with those guys a few months ago. Like I said, it's motivation – just working hard, just have to get back on the field."
After all he's been through, Jones is convinced nothing will derail him from that objective.
"I'm starting to see things," Jones said. "They're starting to fall back in place, especially with me being out here, me being on the Giants field again. It took me a year to get back out here. It's a great feeling to be back out here. It's just baby steps, steps until I get to be back out there fulltime."