PITTSFORD --More speed is never a bad thing, and the Buffalo Bills added plenty of that Wednesday with the addition of running back Taiwan Jones.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that Jones' primary focus with the Bills will be as a kick returner.
"Kelly Skipper, our running backs coach, has been around Taiwan before," McDermott said. "So having experience there and knowing Taiwan, he's obviously got running back experience. Primarily, really it's based on special teams. Bringing more speed into our special teams units, knowing how important that is, so feel good about that."
"It makes it a little more comfortable, but at the end of the day, you’ve still got to compete," Jones said of his familiarity with Skipper. "You’ve still got to learn everything."
Jones, 29, reportedly ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at his pro day prior to the 2011 draft. In six seasons with the Raiders, Jones rushed 44 times for 183 yards and caught 17 passes for 240 yards. He's also returned 75 kicks in 66 career games, for 1,751 yards, an average of 23.3 yards per return. His most productive season as a returner was in 2015, when he returned 31 kicks for 829 yards, an average of 26.7 yards per return.
"When it comes to returns, a lot of it is instinct," Jones said after his first practice. Danny Crossman "did a good job of relaying to me what I needed to do. I just took it to the field and applied it."
Jones will compete with wide receivers Brandon Tate and Rashad Ross for the primary role of kick returner.
"Both of the individuals you just mentioned have done a good job. Brandon's been out a little bit with the injury there. It's good ... to get him going again," McDermott said. "He's done a great job getting healthy. I like what he brings to the table in the return game and then he gives us line of scrimmage value as well as a receiver. And then Rashad is the same thing. You look at his ability in the return game and the speed element and the vertical game at the receiver part of it. Both are working extremely hard and" signing Jones is just "adding new competition."
The Bills now have six running backs on the roster, not counting Mike Tolbert, who has also taken snaps at the position.
"It is adding another number at the position, so we've got to balance that, but really the primary motive behind this is special teams at this point," McDermott said.
Jones can also be used in a defensive role on special teams. He has 44 career tackles.
"Whatever they need, that's what I've been doing all of my career, so hopefully I can bring a lot to them," he said. "They gave me a chance to come out here and work out for them. I was out there and I want to show them something that they like."