When the Ravens opened training camp on Thursday, No. 97 took his usual position with the defensive linemen. But it was Arthur Jones who was wearing the number long associated with former Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg. (Gregg signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.)
On Friday, Jones said his move to claim Gregg's jersey number shouldn't be interpreted as a sign of disrespect, but as a bid for nostalgia.
"I've got some big shoes to fill, but this was my college number," the former Syracuse University standout said. "I was trying to get it when he was here. He said he would sell it to me for $100,000. I got a chance to work with Kelly during the offseason, and he's a great guy. I think he'd be OK with me wearing it."The departure of Gregg opens a door for players like Jones and Brandon McKinney to compete for playing time. Although the expectation is that Terrence Cody is the leading candidate to replace Gregg, the coaching staff is keeping an open mind.
"It's great to know that the defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach in the organization think highly of us to keep us here," Jones said. "We've got big roles to step into. We've got to do our jobs."
Jones is noticeably slimmer. Having played at 325 pounds last year, Jones said he is 10 pounds lighter and has trimmed his body fat. Jones credited his weight loss to working out with his brother Jon Jones, the current UFC Light Heavyweight champion.
"That was intense," Arthur Jones said of the mixed martial arts training. "A lot of endurance work, a lot of running, a lot of a lot of things. A lot of days, I was sore and beat up, but it was good for mental toughness and breaking myself down and beating myself up. It helped me prepare mentally and physically for these days at camp. It's 104 degrees, but even when my body's tired and cramping, you learn how to push through. So it was definitely a different experience for me that helped me out."