By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
Sharing the spotlight has been a part of Julius Jones for as long as he’s been playing football. That comes with having a sibling, older brother Thomas, who plays the same position for the New York Jets.
So it comes as no surprise that Jones is having success in his first season as a Seattle Seahawk, despite having to share the load.
Jones ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards per game (104.0), even though he began the season as a co-starter with Maurice Morris and has since become the butter to the 254-pound loaf of bread that is known as T.J. Duckett.
It’s a role with which Jones has become all too familiar.
“You can’t do it all on your own,” said Jones, who also shared the load with Marion Barber III the past four seasons as a Dallas Cowboy. “There’s no way.”
His latest partner in crime has given the Seahawks a halfback tandem that begs for a catchy nickname, if for no other reason than the duo’s obvious size difference.
The easiest moniker would be Thunder and Lightning, but that one just seems too obvious.
“Nah,” safety Deon Grant said. “That’s already been done.”
Jones, who is a solid 208 pounds but is still dwarfed by Duckett, doesn’t have any ideas when it comes to a nickname for the duo.
“Y’all (in the media) do a good job of that,” he said.
OK, how about Meat and Potatoes? Rocky and Bullwinkle? Beauty and the Beast?
Truth be told, the duo is not that different when it comes to running the ball. Like Duckett, Jones doesn’t mind sticking his nose in a pile. And Duckett is shiftier than he looks.
But they both have different variations that stem from their dissimilar body types. Jones is a quicker back in the mold of older brother Thomas, while Duckett has the bulk of, say, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.
When both runners are seeing playing time, as was the case when they combined for 219 yards in a win over St. Louis 10 days ago, defenses certainly have to adjust.
“Just look at what Jacksonville did last year,” Seattle’s Grant said, referring to the Jaguars’ two-headed attack of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. “If you’ve got a guy who can hit the corner, and you’re used to that, it can definitely be different.”
Truth be told, the duo probably won’t need a nickname for very long. Morris is expected back soon — coach Mike Holmgren said Morris has a remote chance of playing Sunday against the Giants — and so Duckett’s playing time could be limited very soon. And Jones will go back to sharing the load with someone else.
The 27-year-old Jones has gone over 100 rushing yards in each of his two starts this season, and he’s averaging 144 yards per game in four appearances at Qwest Field — two as a member of the Cowboys. Jones has gone over 100 yards just three times in his past 30 games, and two of those happened in his first three games as a Seahawk.
But he laughs at the thought of being satisfied with what he’s accomplished so far.
“You can never really be comfortable,” he said. “I’ve never been comfortable with anything. I’m always trying to improve, and I’m always trying to prove a point. That’s how I go into every game.”
Ask about the key to his success so far, and Jones might give an unexpected answer — at least to those who have followed the Seahawks in recent years.
“The offensive line,” he said, referring to a unit that was much-maligned the past two seasons. “They’ve really been doing an excellent job. Everything starts with them. Those guys are the reason that we’re third in the league right now.”
The linemen appreciate Jones, who has 312 rushing yards this season, as much as he appreciates them.
“We knew he could run the ball,” guard Floyd Womack said, “that’s why they brought him in. He’s the kind of guy who you know is going to fight for every yard. You like that.”
It’s just three games, but so far Jones and the Seahawks have had a pretty good marriage.
“I was just looking, really, to kind of establish myself on this team,” he said. “And I figured everything else would take care of itself.
“I’m just happy to be happy right now. Hopefully I can stay healthy and things will keep happening.”