Redskins running back Matt Jones absent from voluntary OTAs

ASHBURN — Redskins running back Matt Jones is not at the first organized team activities this week and head coach Jay Gruden shed little light on the reason for his absence from the voluntary sessions.

Jones, a third-round pick in 2015 and the starting running back at the beginning of last season, was not active after Week 7 in 2016. The Redskins also drafted another running back this year when they took Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine in the fourth round.

The only other veteran players not at OTAs this week are tight end Jordan Reed and left tackle Trent Williams – but both players are working out with personal trainers elsewhere. Reed is in Miami and Williams is in Oklahoma, according to Gruden. As for Jones, his status was unclear.

“That’s something that Matt Jones will have to answer,” Gruden said. “This is a voluntary deal, as we all know. I can’t force the issue on anybody. If he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me.”

Gruden said he talked to Jones before he left Washington after the most recent offseason workout phase, but didn’t elaborate on that conversation. He only offered hope that Jones was working out as Williams and Reed are.

Does Gruden anticipate Jones returning soon? OTAs are voluntary, but the veteran minicamp that begins June 13 and lasts three days is not.

“I would hope so,” Gruden said before cracking: “It’s mandatory. He better.”

Jones lost the trust of the coaching staff over time with eight fumbles, six lost, in just 243 carries and 20 games. He had shown flashes of ability early in his career, however. Jones had 490 rushing yards and 304 receiving yards as a rookie with four touchdowns as the understudy to Alfred Morris. Last year he became the starter and had 460 rushing yards on 99 carries in seven games with three more touchdowns.

But Jones’ inability to hold onto the football cost him his job and undrafted rookie free agent Rob Kelley took over in Week 8. Jones never played again.

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter

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