JETS CAMP, HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. In seven NFL seasons Thomas
Jones rarely played to expectations. The 2000 first-rounder underperformed in
Arizona and didn't break out until his third team, the Bears, drafted Cedric
Benson in 2005-- Jones responded by topping 1,350 total yards in both '05 and
'06. Now the Jets, who in March acquired Jones for a second-rounder, want him
to play like the premier back he's been for the last two years. For their sake
he'd better: Just last week Curtis Martin retired and Cedric Houston left the
team. Coach Eric Mangini is counting on Jones to strike some fear into
defenses, enabling quarterback Chad Pennington to exploit the play action.
"Anytime you have an effective running game, that play action has so much
more pull," says Mangini. For that to happen the Jets will have to see the
Thomas Jones who lives up to expectations.