Reshad Jones ain’t too proud to beg — at least when it comes to free trips to Hawaii.
Jones, the Dolphins’ sixth-year safety, is determined to make his first Pro Bowl this year, no matter how many tweets it takes.
Jones has turned his Twitter account, which has nearly 40,000 followers, into a viral marketing campaign.
He retweets fans saying he should be in the Pro Bowl. He sends out stats. He has even cut a video encouraging people to vote for him.
“It’s a popularity contest,” Jones said. “Get your name out there to fans that really don’t know too much about football and aren’t really into it. … Pro Bowl, it can’t be off of play or numbers. I think it’s more about publicity and popularity contests and do the things that we need to get recognized in that way.”
He has a point. Any way you slice the numbers, Jones is one of the best safeties in football this year.
Pro Football Focus has given Jones the fourth-highest grade of any NFL safety; only Eric Berry, Malcolm Jenkins and Harrison Smith graded higher after 12 games.
Jones’ 107 tackles are the most at his position, and rank fourth overall. His four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and eight pass breakups are both tied for fourth among safeties. And he leads his position in run stops with 31, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Yes, absolutely,” Dolphins coach Dan Campbell said, when asked if Jones deserves a spot in the Pro Bowl. “I’d like to know who’s better right now.”
The sad truth is, it might not matter.
As Jones conceded, what you do is secondary to how well you are known.
Fans get to vote. So do players and coaches. Each group counts a third.
And as it stands right now, Jones needs some help.
With just a week to go, Jones ranked sixth among strong safeties — and 12th among all safeties — with just 44,952 votes.
He trails Charles Woodson, the top vote-getting safety, by more than 100,000.
Already, Jones seems to be preparing himself for yet another snub.
“I’d be disappointed, but it has happened before,” Jones said. “… I can only control what I can control. Just continue to go out and play solid football and help the Miami Dolphins win football games.”
A couple of factors are working against Jones here — one national, the other local.
The Dolphins hardly make a ripple in the national media pond; their second of two prime-time games this season comes Monday night against the Giants.
If he makes a couple of impact plays against New York, it will help raise his profile.
But here’s what hurts Jones more: Dolphins fans simply don’t seem to be all that into the team right now. Roughly a third with tickets to last Sunday’s game against the Ravens sold theirs to Baltimore supporters; Sun Life Stadium was awash in purple at kickoff.
“I don’t know what I need to do,” Jones said Thursday, with near-exasperation. “I know at this point, it’s not based on performance. It’s a popularity contest and who has the biggest name. If we’re going off of playing and production, my numbers are top of the chart in every category.”
▪ The Dolphins held four Dolphins out of practice Thursday: tackle Branden Albert (rest), tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs) and center Mike Pouncey (foot).
Campbell suggested both Albert and Pouncey were given veteran days off. And although James will miss his sixth straight game Monday, he could finally return to practice next week.
Earl Mitchell, meanwhile, worked on a limited basis after missing the Ravens game with a calf injury. Mitchell “looked solid,” Campbell said, but is still day-to-day.
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) and receiver Kenny Stills (ankle) were also limited in their participation.