Chad Jones showed up for the Giants' offseason conditioning program on Monday and found he had a new number. Gone was his old 35, which was issued to running back Andre Brown last season. Jones now is 43.
"It doesn't matter as long as I'm here," Jones said. "I'll be seventy-something."
Jones is happy to be anywhere after a near-fatal car accident almost two years ago. He's thrilled to be back with the team that selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft. He hasn't yet been cleared to practice -- not that there are practices to participate in yet anyway -- and has spent the last few days just showing the rehab and medical staff what he can and cannot do.
And enjoying his time as an NFL player.
"It definitely feels good breathing that New York Giants air," he said. "Being out here working with new faces instead of being back home working out with myself or the younger kids in the gym. Now it's a professional environment and I'm glad to be back out here."
The Giants are glad to have him, too. When he ran for a bit on a practice field earlier this week, there were a lot of eyes peeking through the windows of the weight room to see what he was capable of doing. When he came back into the building, he said, he was greeted with handshakes and congratulations.
"I guess a lot of people didn't really know what to expect," Jones said. "Guys were really impressed by how I was moving around."
Impressed . . . and inspired. Chris Canty, who is coming off knee surgery, tweeted earlier in the week about Jones looking good. And Terrell Thomas, who is coming off ACL surgery, said seeing Jones helps others push themselves.
"Look at me, I'm nothing compared to him," Thomas said. "This guy had his leg [nearly] amputated, and for him to be running around . . . He's inspiring a lot of guys in the locker room."
All of that is fine for April, a nice, heartwarming story. But Jones doesn't want to just be the guy who tried to come back from that shattered leg and near-fatal crash. He wants to be the guy who does it.
"I've been feeling it since day one when I woke up from the wreck, telling my doctors and my family that I was going to play football again," he said. "That long-term goal, which is to put that jersey on and run out on that field and play my first down as a professional football player. This is a new beginning and I'm looking forward to upcoming challenges."