The team took the third-year running back off the physically
unable to perform list Saturday and kept him on the roster when it
was trimmed to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Jones said Monday at
his first practice of the season that getting back before the
Lions' sixth game Oct. 21 against Tampa Bay would be a bonus.
"I want to definitely be back before six [games]," he said.
"But I can start practicing now and take it day by day."
Jones broke a bone in his left foot late last season and early
prognoses included the possibility of missing the entire 2007
season. He rushed for 689 yards and six touchdowns on 181 carries
in 12 games in '06 and had a career-best 61 receptions for 520
He missed the final three games with the injury, which required
"Orthopedically, everything's fine with my foot," he said. "I
felt good and the doctors reassured them."
Jones did not take part in any offseason training sessions or
minicamps. If the Lions kept Jones on the PUP list, he would not
have been eligible to return until the week of Oct. 14, when
Detroit has a bye. Now, he can return when he and the team feel
Running back Tatum Bell, acquired in an offseason trade that
send cornerback Dre' Bly to Denver, is the likely starter for
Sunday's opener. T.J. Duckett, who spent last season in Washington,
and Brian Calhoun round out the Lions' running backs corps. Duckett
likely will be used as a short-yardage specialist.
One of two first-round picks in the 2004 draft, Jones had his
best season as a rookie, when he rushed for 1,133 yards and was an
alternate on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Elbow and shoulder injuries
cost him three games during his second season.
"He looked good," quarterback Jon Kitna said after Monday's
practice, Jones' first in pads. "It's a gradual process, but he
said he feels great and that's the key."
The Lions, who have lost their last two road openers, begin the
regular season at Oakland. Last season, the Raiders (2-14) were the
only team worse than Detroit (3-13).