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Once On Pitch, Christian Jones Now Making Name On Gridiron

Tackle did not take first offensive snaps until college arrival

Rookie tackle Christian Jones (75) takes part in Monday's Phase Two field work next to Dennis Daley (71).
Rookie tackle Christian Jones (75) takes part in Monday's Phase Two field work next to Dennis Daley (71).

When Christian Jones first got to high school, he told everybody that he could be a professional footballer.

Fact check -- by footballer, he meant soccer player. Football, the American version, was not yet on his radar. The World Cup was.

"I had the utmost confidence in myself, no matter what I did, I could be the best," Jones said. "I mean, it sounds crazy to talk about it now because this is what I look like now, right?"

What Jones looks like is a 6-foot-5, 318-pound offensive tackle that would stick out like a sore thumb on the soccer pitch. On the gridiron, he fits right in.

Size is important, but the athleticism he picked up from soccer made the transition easier for the Cardinals fifth-round selection.

"I really noticed stamina, off rip, just being in better condition than everyone else on the (high school) team," said Jones, who finally started playing the American version as a junior. "And then doing the footwork drills, a lot of people are like, 'Ugh,' going through it really slow. But this is easy."

On top of footwork and stamina, he also cited body control and balance as traits that helped him. "Great genetics" were also critical in his development.

New Cardinals tackle Christian Jones in his soccer-playing days.
New Cardinals tackle Christian Jones in his soccer-playing days.

They say it takes a village to achieve greatness, and Jones had a good team by his side. Prior to taking his first snap on the offensive line at Texas, his parents put together a strict meal plan that he followed. When Jones' football adventures became more serious, he was around 240 pounds and began as a defensive lineman.

He recently saw a piece of paper with one of the original meal plans his mom created.

It included eight whole eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter crackers, amongst many other things. "Dude, we came a long way," Jones said.

His parents have been important. His coaches too. But Jones' journey has also been underwritten by the belief he has in himself.

"Once you have fear, you're removing faith, so I legit have no fear at all," Jones said. "If you don't believe in yourself, who's going to believe in you?

"(The Cardinals) gave me an opportunity, and all I need is an opportunity every time I started doing anything. I'm going to take it and run with it as far as I can."

While he spent his collegiate career as an offensive tackle, the Cardinals already have the starting bookend spots filled by Paris Johnson Jr. and free agency addition Jonah Williams.

Jones recognizes this is an opportunity to learn from the veterans in the locker room. A player with a lot of upside, he said that since he started playing football at 16, he has the low mileage and "fresh tires" that'll help him grow.

"I'm still learning new techniques and I want to get better," Jones said. "I see what I have for my future and for myself, and all I know is I've got to keep on working and stay on track."

Now, Jones somewhat saw into the future. He did achieve his dream of being a professional.

But was it in football, or fútbol?

"I had to get acclimated to the culture, but this is football. That's soccer," Jones said. "This game is very special, football, there's no game like it. Everybody could be right, and one person could be wrong and the whole play is busted. It's a real team sport and the love and the passion that you need to have to play it at a high level is nothing that I've seen in any other sport."

Images of the Arizona Cardinals 2024 Rookie Minicamp at the Dignity Health Training Facility

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