HOUSTON - The Houston Texans continued their rally in free agency Wednesday, signing fullback Greg Jones.
The 6-foot-1 Jones is the third free agent to sign with Houston since Friday, joining safety Ed Reed and punter Shane Lechler. The Texans needed a fullback after James Casey signed with Philadelphia after free agency opened. Houston also cut receiver Kevin Walter and lost outside linebacker Connor Barwin (Philadelphia) and safety Glover Quin (Detroit).
Jones is not a perennial Pro Bowl player like Reed and Lechler, but he's a sturdy, dependable blocker Houston has needed since Vonta Leach left for Baltimore after the 2010 season.
Jones said he was drawn to the Texans after studying their roster and offensive scheme.
"It looked like it would be a good fit for me, because they have an excellent run game and they use the fullback," Jones said in a conference call. "Other teams that I was looking at and talking to throughout the process, they didn't really use the fullback as much as Houston did. I think it is a good situation for me to come in and be another piece of the puzzle."
The Jaguars drafted Jones in the second round in 2004, and he helped Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to a total of five 1,000-yard seasons. He's given a lot of thought to playing for another team for the first time in his NFL career.
"It's going to be different, but it's a new chapter in my life, it's the next stage in my life and it's something I chose to do," he said. "I think I made the right decision."
Now, Jones will get to block for Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, and Ben Tate, who ran for 942 yards in 2011.
"They are two phenomenal runners," Jones said. "I just looked back at the last couple of years and what they've been able to do together. Even though they're both great runners, they're not the same. I'm just coming in to just pave the way for them so they can help me look good at the end of the day."
Jones said the Texans' recent success was a factor in his decision. Jacksonville hasn't had a winning season since 2007, while Houston has won the last two AFC South titles. The Texans openly spoke about Super Bowl aspirations before last season, but they lost in the divisional playoffs for the second straight year.
"That was one of my main reasons for coming here," Jones said. "I've got more years behind me than in front of me. My window of opportunity is getting slimmer and slimmer every year, so that was one of my main reasons. I'm just trying to help them get to the next level and just help to get there."
Jones, who turns 32 next Thursday, ran for a career-high 575 yards and four touchdowns in 2005. He missed the 2006 season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, then played in all 16 games in 2007. He gradually moved from running back to fullback and credits former Jacksonville running backs coach Kennedy Pola with helping him make the transition.
"Without him, I wouldn't be playing fullback the way I am today," he said. "He laid a good foundation for me and taught me some of the good techniques. It is what it is. I've been trying to take it to the next level."
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