I was watching from the stands as the play unfolded a little more than a year ago. Brandon Jones was running a deep out route, as memory serves, and he fell to the ground making his cut. It was raining a little that day and I thought he simply slipped on the wet turf. The pass from Steve McNair was already in the air and with Jones on the ground, the 49er defender had an easy pick and ran it back down the sideline for a touchdown.
Concern began to set in when Jones didn't get up and the trainers and Doc Burton went onto the field. The concern intensified when Jeff Fisher walked across the field for a look too. Fisher doesn't normally do that unless the injury is serious.
My concerns were alleviated a little when Jones walked off the field under his own power. A day or two later, however, an MRI confirmed Jones had torn an ACL, the same injury which had sidelined Tyrone Calico, Tank Williams, Peter Sirmon, and Jacob Bell the year before. All were slowed the following year, nowhere near their former selves.
In large part because of the inability of those four to play at their previous level, I didn't think Jones would play well this year, if at all. I even speculated he would be placed on the PUP list (physically unable to perform) at the beginning of this season. He would then be given a grace period before the Titans would have to either activate him, release him, or place him on Injured Reserve.
Jones surprised me, and most other people too, when he performed well in training camp. He spent a lot of time and hard work in the offseason rehabbing the knee and it paid off. In the final preseason game, Jones showed he hadn't lost any speed when he took a short pass on a crossing route and outran defenders all the way down the field for a touchdown.
Jones has started eight games this year and has 21 catches for 230 yards. His three receiving touchdowns are tied with Drew Bennett for the team lead.
Teammates have noticed the work ethic Jones displayed during his rehab and they've voted him to be this year's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is given to the player who exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage, as voted on by his teammates.
"That is a blessing from God to get an award like that and for the guys to notice me like that," Jones said. "It means a lot to me and my family."
Previous award recipients include Steve McNair (1999), Kenny Holmes (2000), Kevin Dyson (2001), Eddie George (2002), Kevin Carter (2003), Keith Bulluck (2004) and Tank Williams (2005).
Those are some good people and that's pretty good company to be in.