Zay Jones more comfortable in second season with Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones stretches during an NFL football training camp practi ...

It was a difficult season for Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones.

Joining the team midway through last season. Trying to establish a rapport with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Not really knowing anybody,” Jones said Wednesday after practice.

“Those conversations that you would usually have in the offseason didn’t take place for me. So I was kind of playing catch-up all (of last) season.”

Not this season.

Jones is aspiring for better results this season, now that he’s familiar with Carr and the organization. The 25-year-old struggled to produce in 10 games with the Raiders last season, but arrived in Las Vegas in the offseason and trained informally with Carr, building chemistry and confidence.

“I wanted to get to Vegas as soon as possible, just commit to make this a home for myself and (establish) that relationship, especially with (Carr),” Jones said. “This summer was very important for me just to get around the guys, especially get around him, understand his language and the way he talks. Just build a genuine relationship outside of football, because the football stuff is going to take care of itself.”

Jones was a promising prospect, setting Division I single-season and career receptions records at Eastern Carolina. He was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft, but was traded for a 2021 fifth-round pick after two-plus years, 1,037 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

He also struggled with Oakland, posting 20 catches for 147 yards in 10 games as the team sputtered offensively.

“You come into a middle of a season, and you’re trying to learn someone’s playbook, there’s small details that you may miss just naturally because it’s just so much,” said Jones, who played 45 percent of the Raiders’ snaps. “There’s a lot of language and a lot of verbiage that goes into it.”

Jones said he lost some weight during the offseason and focused on speed, quickness and mastering the nuances of the playbook. Now, he says he can be versatile.

“Now when I’m going into the summer, I can practice these routes, full speed with no hesitation, because I know what I’m doing,” he said. “Now I can put my own flavor on things.”

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said Tuesday that Jones and fellow wide receiver Nelson Agholor are in as good of shape as anyone else in camp.

Jones certainly feels better. Maybe he’ll play better, too.

“I think this is one of the most confident times I’ve ever had in the NFL,” he said. “I’m enjoying it. It’s a lot of fun playing with these guys. Everyone is committed. Everyone is all hands on deck.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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