IRVINE, Calif. – Ernest Jones is entering his second NFL season and coming off of winning a Super Bowl as a rookie, yet there is already a moment in the linebacker's young career that eclipses that.
Working with veteran linebacker and offseason free agent signing Bobby Wagner.
"It's been the highlight of my career so far," Jones said after the Rams' July 30 training camp practice. "Just being around him, learning from him, seeing about how he goes about his business each and every day. Just trying to take something away from that day and just add it to my game just to be the better version of myself."
Through the first week of training camp practices, it's evident.
It has been a common occurrence to see Jones seated next to Wagner in the Rams' outdoor locker area for pre-practice talks. Wagner in the spring noted Jones' willingness to learn, which has only been reinforced by the amount of time Jones spends trying to soak up as much as he can from Wagner.
"He's so receptive, he comes in early, he's a hard worker," Wagner said during the offseason program this spring. "Like I said, he's a guy that can really be very, very talented just because of his mindset, the way he carries himself and his hunger to be great."
Wagner's primary teaching point is what he wished he was taught at the same juncture in his own career: Being more efficient with steps. If a play can be made with three steps instead of five, for example, then use the former to do so.
"When you've been moving so fast at the positions your whole life, slowing it down now is kind of the biggest thing," Jones said. "That's what I'm eating myself at now. Just stop hopping, stop being everywhere. He (Wagner) does everything so – I call it elegance. He does it so elegant. That's what I'm trying to get to. I would say it's just work in progress. Something I'll definitely have by the time the season starts, but definitely something I'm working on."
Jones entered his second training camp with more confidence, taking pride in the little details and wanting to sharpening his technique to be the best linebacker he can be.
Now, he's got a mentor who can help further that development – and maybe win another Super Bowl or two, too.
"My first year, I won a Super Bowl and that's a big blessing, but there's a lot more football left in my eyes," Jones said. "I want to do this thing for years, years to come and with more Super Bowls. I've just been learning from him and his presence alone. That's probably the reason it's been the highlight. Learning and knowing that I'm going to be able to take this for years to come and with him win some more Super Bowls. I'm just excited about him being around."