ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Judging from his production at Kansas City Chiefs training camp, where he’s been a disruptive force every day, Chris Jones looks headed for a career season.
The reasons? Jones is spending much of his time at defensive end rather than an interior position. He said he’s lost some weight to accommodate the position change. And then there’s yoga.
If Jones can surpass his career-best 15.5 sacks from 2018, he said his three-times-a-week offseason yoga sessions will indeed be a factor.
“I can do some positions I never thought I could do,” Jones said. “It was fun. I usually do Pilates during the offseason, but I started a little earlier this year for my flexibility. Bending on the edge is a little different than taking the turn [inside] so I wanted to be a little more flexible.”
Jones isn’t the only Chiefs defensive lineman to go the yoga and Pilates route. Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton are among the other practitioners, and both said they’re reaping the benefits, yoga for flexibility and Pilates for strength and injury prevention.
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It would have been a sight if the three players, Jones, Nnadi and Wharton, would have gone to class together, but regrettably they went about their business separately.
“I’ve been taking yoga for years,” Nnadi said. “I really love it. For me, it’s very relaxing and it helps me with my breathing and my flexibility. I tried Pilates this past offseason and I thought it was very beneficial. I did not know how serious it was. When I left, the whole table was drenched in sweat.”
In addition to yoga and Pilates, Jones said he dropped about 20 pounds from 310 to 290, which he said was about ideal for playing from the interior or outside positions.
He also said he spent time watching video of edge rushers such as Cameron Jordan, Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa to help him transition to a new position.
“My favorite gap is any gap I can get to the quarterback in,” Jones said. “But I feel good rushing off the edge.”
While Jones may get most of his work from the edge this season, he probably won’t be playing exclusively there. Jones has been moving around in camp, playing outside and in.
“Chris is going to have to play multiple spots,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “That’s just the way it is.
“The more flexible we can be, especially with big guys, the better off we’ll be. Now, our defense has quite a bit of volume, so there’s a challenge in learning two spots, but I think Chris has handled it pretty well to this point.”
Jones said, “I’m not a real defensive end. Spags is going to move me around. Most likely I’m going to be playing both spots depending on game plan, whoever we’re playing and what’s the best matchup.”
The offseason signing of defensive tackle Jarran Reed freed the Chiefs to play Jones more on the edge, and they plan to take advantage. He led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past three seasons mostly from the interior, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be their leader again this season.
“There’s a lot that goes into rushing the passer: hand placement, eye coordination, skill, a little luck, a little play calling,” Jones said. “When all of that comes together, when all of it works together for you, then you’re able to reach the quarterback. Sometimes it [doesn’t] work, sometimes it [does].”
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