LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The NFL debut of Bears rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. will be remembered for a costly miscue.
Late in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Jones muffed a punt return, which New York recovered. Chicago lost its best chance to make a comeback.
“He’s an explosive player and a dynamic player,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “So, he’ll learn from that.”
The Bears continue to maintain confidence in what Jones can become. That meant offering their support to him after the loss Sunday.
A third-round pick of the Bears in April, Jones has the potential to be a key player on both offense and in the return game. But his rookie season was set back by a hamstring injury that he suffered in the preseason, which caused him to miss the first three games of the regular season.
Getting back to full speed has been a challenge for Jones, both physically and mentally.
“I don't think he was 100%,” Bears receiver Darnell Mooney said. “Even for that game he's probably about 90 (%), 88 or whatnot. But he came out there, he fought for us.
“It's definitely a mental challenge, especially as a rookie. You're trying to learn the playbook, you're trying to do everything right and just not have anybody on your back and have everybody trust you and believe you.”
Jones didn't take a snap on offense Sunday. His only role came on 11 special teams snaps, including two punt returns and two kickoff returns.
The Bears hope Jones can add a speed threat at wide receiver but have eased him back as he manages his health.
“I just think it’s building upon where he’s at,” Eberflus said. “Once we know that he’s good to go and solid, we’ll start building him in there as we go. But it will be a smaller role and a bigger role and if he improves and goes, we’ll just keep building it.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.